UNC task force develops plan to address racial equity

GREENSBORO, NC. (AP) — The 17 schools in North Carolina's university system have been given a blueprint for fighting discrimination and promoting racial equity on their campuses.

The UNC System Racial Equity Task Force unveiled its 65-page final report Wednesday at the Board of Governors meeting, the News & Record of Greensboro reported Thursday. The report, which caps six months of work, contains six broad recommendations and 28 suggested actions.

The task force was formed about two weeks after a white Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, a Black man, by kneeling on his neck.

“In our quest for excellence in the space of racial inclusion, equity and diversity, our system has a lot of room for improvement,” said Reginald Ronald Holley, a board member and task force chairman. “But we cannot embrace this idea on an intermittent basis.”

The report suggests improvements in recruitment, retention and promotion practices to build a racially diverse student body, workforce and university leadership. It recommends increasing financial aid and college counseling, recruiting more students of color for teacher training programs and diversifying campus boards of trustees.

It also calls for each campus and the university system to set up programs to support racial equity and inclusion. These programs could help students of color stay in school and close a 19-point gap in graduation rates between white and Black students, the task force said.

University police departments should have more consistent training and procedures across institutions, it says, and all officers should be equipped with body-worn cameras and non-lethal devices in addition to firearms. Campus police should refer more students to counseling or the student conduct process, rather than prosecuting them criminally, it says.

“We live in one of the most diverse states in the country, and our university must offer a welcoming and supporting environment for students, staff and faculty of all backgrounds,” UNC System President Peter Hans said. “There are people in every part of the state concerned about fairness (and) justice, and our success will go a long way in determining theirs.”