Faculty Statement in Support of Black Students

On Monday, August 24, 2020, the Faculty of North Carolina Wesleyan College voted and passed the following statement in support of Black lives. 

Faculty Statement in Support of Black Students We the faculty of North Carolina Wesleyan College affirm that Black lives matter. George Floyd’s life mattered. Breonna Taylor’s life mattered. Elijah McClain’s life mattered. Keith Collins’s life mattered.

It is undeniable that racism—in both its overt and its systemic forms—is alive and well. We owe it to our students, to our community, and to each other to decenter whiteness and to prioritize fighting racism in all aspects of our work. This is particularly important because our campus exists on land that was once a plantation, includes a building built for a slave owner, and is in a city split across two counties along racial lines. We affirm the need for this fight to be more than symbolic or rhetorical: we must materially support these efforts on an institutional level by developing institutional support for anti-racist pedagogies, by reviewing our hiring practices, and by developing more venues for students, faculty, and staff alike to learn from one another.

We recognize that we all have a great deal more to learn and a great deal more work to do. To start, we will take the following steps. We will develop active support for anti-racist teaching through the Teaching and Learning Center. We will carefully review our faculty recruiting, hiring, and promotion practices to prevent institutionally reproducing white supremacy in these processes. We will host public forums to discuss the ways that racism shapes our everyday experiences. We will use these meetings to discuss our next steps and to develop a community-based action plan with direct input from faculty, staff, and especially students. We also call to establish a committee tasked with coordinating these actions and with ensuring that such programs remain an active, high-priority focus for the college in the future.

We fully commit ourselves to doing the work necessary to substantively support our students—especially our Black students and students of color. We are not making this statement in an attempt to enter into a partisan political debate but to live up to our college’s stated beliefs: “We affirm the basic rights of all persons to equal access to education and to spiritual growth within the college. We deplore acts of hate or violence against groups or persons based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or economic status, and offer a climate of openness, acceptance, and support to enable all persons to participate fully in the life of the college. We seek to create a community of scholarship and learning that facilitates social and academic participation as an inclusive right for all.” These values are central to our work as educators. In addition to taking the collective actions outlined above, we call on one another and on all members of our campus community—especially the white and non-Black members of this community—to commit to doing the sometimes difficult, sometimes painful work of educating ourselves on systemic racism. We must do better.