UNCW to remove ‘Black Lives Matter’ banners from campus buildings, move them to an art exhibit

North Carolina news

UNCW’s campus (Photo: WECT)

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – UNC-Wilmington is making changes to rules regulating free expression and the placement of Black Lives Matter banners that have been placed on buildings around campus. Chancellor Jose Sartarelli announced on Saturday that new policies would see banners placed on campus buildings moved to an art exhibit.

“As it honors and facilitates free expression, the university has policies in place that outline the time, place and manner of such activity. This includes the location of banners and other expressive activity for student events and public events sponsored by external community organizations or individuals. Until recently, the university did not have a specific policy designated to manage the time, date and place for expressive activities, such as banner placement, by faculty and staff,” according to a statement from Sartarelli.

While the changes made will be applied to all messages, the statement on Saturday specifically refers to the fate of “Black Lives Matter” banners placed across the campus over the summer.

“After careful consideration of several aspects of this issue, as well as feedback from faculty, staff and students, the university adopted a policy that is consistent with similar policies at public universities across the country and the UNC System, and is fully compliant w/ federal and state law. Under the new policy, the university will work with faculty and other campus constituencies to arrange for transition of the remaining #BlackLivesMatter banners that were placed on campus buildings over the summer to a collective art exhibit,” Sartarelli continued. “In the coming days, the Office of Facilities will carefully collect the banners and store them in a locked warehouse for eventual inclusion in the exhibit.”

The Chancellor announced the changes coming to campus while outlining the steps the school has taken to “enhance the UNCW experience for people of color” over the past year.

These efforts include:

  • “In July, we launched the Chancellor’s Renewal and Change Accountability Committee, which held its first meeting on July 28. Trustee Maurice Smith ’79 serves as the committee chair; please see this news article for a list of its members.
  • We also established an initiative to raise $1 million for additional diversity and inclusion scholarship endowment support. Private support, including a gift from me, has reached $450,000 in new commitments as of Sept. 14.
  • In August, we celebrated an important new gift commitment from John Scholz ’84 and his spouse, Dr. Anil Mohin, to expand the space and support the programming at the Mohin-Scholz LGBTQIA+ Resource Office.
  • Since the semester started, we have formed working groups on campus to address faculty search committee training, professional development for faculty and staff in diversity and inclusion, pipeline programs to recruit and retain diverse faculty, a new living and learning community focused on Black history and culture, scholarships for diverse students, 1898 research and archival efforts, an Africana Studies major, and bridge programs to recruit and retain diverse students.
  • In September, we announced that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion was launching a Fellows Program, in partnership with other campus divisions, to seek faculty and staff committed to enhancing the university’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Click here for a complete link to the program description. Click here for the applicationApplications are due Friday, September 25.
  • This fall, we are supporting the UNC System’s Racial Equity Task Force, which will gather information from students, faculty and staff across the system via a Campus Climate survey and a series of virtual town halls to be held in October. I encourage you to fill out the survey, using either the link for students or the link for faculty and staff.” he said.

“As Chancellor, I am excited about the prospect of these art displays, and I encourage the campus community to support these efforts to preserve a memorable and incredibly meaningful time in the history of the University of North Carolina Wilmington,” Sartarelli concluded.

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