UNC Black Student Movement to protest over tenure controversy

Thursday, June 24, 2021
UNC Black Student Movement to protest over tenure controversy
UNC's Black Student Movement will demonstrate outside the university's administration building over the tenure controversy surrounding Nikole Hannah-Jones.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- UNC's Black Student Movement will demonstrate Friday outside the university's administration building. The group has a list of 13 demands -- one of them calling for journalist and alum Nikole Hannah-Jones to be tenured.

"I think the situation has made me feel incredibly undervalued," said rising UNC Junior Taliajah "Terry" Vann. "Oftentimes i feel like an outsider at UNC and this situation has only exasperated that."

Vann describing her frustration regarding the effect of the university's board of trustees decision not to award tenure to Jones, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.

This week, Hannah-Jones announced through her attorneys that she will not start her role as Knight Chair in race and investigative journalism next month without the prestigious title, according to a letter given to NC policy watch.

"I was very sad to hear that but not surprised and honestly proud of her for making that decision," said Vann. "We are in a moment right now where we are about to lose the opportunity to have access to her and we already have so little access."

Vann is President of UNC's Black Student Movement, a group she says has a history of past student leaders who have fought for fair and equal treatment on campus with little success.

On Wednesday, she and other students met with Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, sharing their 13 demands.

Among the items: Address Hannah-Jones' tenure, overpolicing of Black students, and improving the unsung heroes statue honoring enslaved Black people who built the university.

'You have White students and community members who will change their children's diaper on this statue," said Vann. "We are treating the people who built this university who we are supposed to be honoring with this incredible disrespect."

ABC11 asked Vann whether the meeting left her feeling hopeful for action and change.

"No," she replied.

ABC11 reached out to UNC Chapel-Hill for comment about the group's concerns but has not heard back.

Vann said the Black Student Movement will be speaking publicly about its 13 demands at noon Friday outside the South Building.