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March 20, 2018 Executive Committee minutes

Attending: Bryan Andregg, Clare Counihan, Mariel Eaves, Lori Haight, Naquan Hill, Shayna Hill, Arlene Medder, Alan Moran, Katie Turner

Excused Absences: Katie Musgrove

Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m. She asked for a motion to approve the February minutes. The minutes were approved by acclamation.

The Chair asked Naquan Hill and Matt Banks to present the Forum’s monthly budget report. Banks had recently met with Cheryl Gerringer of Workplace Strategy, Equity and Engagement Accounting to discuss the Forum’s accounts and Infoporte. He produced charts showing the progress of spending for the Forum’s professional development grants and other expenditures. The Chair reported that she had asked that the departmental stipend go to pay for temporary workers and software in her department.

Naquan Hill asked how long the Forum should choose to defer payments on professional development grants from time of award. Clare Counihan thought that six months is an adequate time for delay.

The committee discussed finding alternatives to the publication software MailPoet, which will no longer be supported by the University in July 2018. Members suggested using Office 365 and iContact. Bryan Andregg said that Lyris will soon be phased out by ITS. Greg Smith advised that the Forum should move to grab the current code and listservs from the MailPoet site to avoid losing this information.

The Chair asked if the Forum wished to hold its July retreat at the Carolina Outdoor Education Center, given the good experience that delegates had at the Center in March. Banks said that holding the retreat there is within the Forum budget if catering is allowed at the Center. Lori Haight suggested that the Forum reserve an indoor area for its normal retreat activities. She thought it important to give those unable to participate in the ropes course another outlet for teambuilding. The Chair thought it best to allow the Forum to vote on this topic when these questions were answered.

Clare Counihan asked if the Education and Career Development committee could dedicate some of its budget to translating the Carolina Family Scholarship application into Spanish, Burmese, and Karen. The committee agreed with this proposal.

The Chair moved to consideration of an invitation to reaffirm the Chicago Principles on Free Speech that the faculty have adopted earlier. She said that this statement’s commitment is to allow anyone to speak on campus, regardless of whether the speaker seems constructive. The only exceptions would be for inciteful and hate speech. She noted that the UNC-Chapel Hill statement begins with a broad overview on the work of the faculty and the history of the University. The Chair emphasized that the original Chicago Principles were not changed in the UNC-Chapel Hill draft. Instead, the faculty have added context unique to the University. Katie Turner said that the Faculty Council had wanted an endorsement by the Forum Executive Committee, understanding that the full Forum could not endorse the document before April. She said that the Faculty Executive Committee had voted in favor of the revised Principles, but that the vote was not unanimous.

Todd Hux asked what the dissenters from the document wanted. Turner said that dissenters wanted edits to the UNC-Chapel Hill prologue, most notably changing the sentence dealing with Jim Crow to include “murder and rape.” She said that the authors of the Chicago Principles intended for freedom of speech to include a sense of civility and a climate of mutual respect. She said that this climate is meant to be prescriptive, not punitive. Bryan Andregg said that although the University values civility, this concern must not eliminate discussion.

Mariel Eaves thought that the Principles expect community members to maintain civility no matter what. Andregg thought it best to bring the question to the entire Forum. Eaves said that the preamble to the UNC-Chapel Hill edition of the Principles exalts an institution that she saw as still racist. The Chair encouraged members to read the Principles before voting. Members took time to read the UNC-Chapel Hill statement as well as the Chicago Principles. The committee discussed the meaning of preparation for discussion.

As context, Eaves noted that her ancestors had been owned by the University. She thought that the University’s request that community members “balance conflicting demands” naïve given that there is no balance of the right of its members to live without elimination by murder or slow impoverishment. She did not understand why the impetus was placed on those with lesser power to maintain civility. Todd Hux asked what Eaves would change about the Principles statement.

Bryan Andregg noted the timeline requested by the faculty given the recent free speech Policy enacted by the Board of Governors. Katie Turner noted a request by Chicago Principles writers that discussions not consider public outrage or the perception that the alt-Right has used free speech to squelch free speech, such as in the closure of the Center for Civil Rights. Instead, the authors want a timeless statement that did not talk about political activity.

Alan Moran asked if the alt-Right was using civility as a weapon of choice to prevent protests of the status quo. Eaves said that if the Left does not respond to alt-Right arguments in the interest of civility, the Right’s arguments look reasonable. Moran noted that organized and peaceful counter-protests that have been ignored by the press. Turner noted the worries over speakers being shouted down or exposed to violent conduct. Principle writers seem to see alt-Right provocations as an opportunity for learning, for free speech to win over free speech.
Naquan Hill was not convinced by the Chicago Principles statement. Kathy Ramsey thought that the statement put the burden on minority communities, asking them to be quiet and sympathetic, to understand and help others through these tense times. She said that expecting minority communities to carry the moral weight of the conversation on their backs should not happen in 2018.

Clare Counihan found it problematic that the Principles statement does not respond to the Board of Governors free speech policies which institutes punishments on community members who violate these policies. She observed that faculty members do not have the same skin in the game as their jobs are not at stake resulting from the Board’s policies. She said that people should not be under the condition of losing their jobs for speech-related reasons unless the speech is harmful or deeply offensive. Greg Smith did not approve of the statement and did not want to bring it to the full Forum for discussion.

Alan Moran asked if it would be worthwhile to discuss the statement with the caveat that the Executive Committee does not endorse. Katie Turner thought that broader discussion of the Principles without hope of passage could lead to confusion and misunderstanding of the Forum’s position. Mariel Eaves said that it is easy for white people to want debate on subjects that minority people find physically and emotionally taxing. Angenette McAdoo noted that these questions run deeper in the culture than simply UNC-Chapel Hill.

The Chair said that the document is problematic with the civility clause. She said that the alt-Right protests in Charlottesville, when marchers chanted that “Jews Will Not Replace Us,” were deeply offensive. Half of her family had died in the Holocaust. She said that any push to squelch conversation broke her heart. She did not want to traumatize but she also did not want to squelch conversation. Eaves said that her pain should not be used to teach others. She did not agree that she should be quiet while others call for her demise. She did not understand why this conversation has arisen yet again and she asked why the committee must use its time in this way.

Katie Turner disagreed that the debate was not a good use of time since the topic had been brought up. Todd Hux asked what Eaves thought would be right. Eaves said that the topic should not go to the larger body. She said that the debate would retraumatize her and others and there was no need to boost the role of civility on campus. Clare Counihan thought that the question could be framed as a call for mutual respect. Turner noted that there were First Amendment attorneys present for the faculty discussion, but no University Counsel. Eaves said that University Counsel’s role is to protect the University. Alan Moran noted that some observers believe that the Board of Governors’ free speech policies were drafted to suppress voices of dissent.

The Chair noted that she was happy to have been asked to participate in the faculty working group on the principles and was glad that the Forum had been asked to participate in this process. Lori Haight asked about bringing up inequities between staff and faculty. James Holman said that any signature from the Forum must include this issue. Todd Hux thought that endorsing the principle statement would be beating a dead horse. He did not see a reason to bring the policy to the full Forum.

Clare Counihan reiterated that the statement does not address staff issues. Eaves added that the statement venerates civility as an absolute good, framing the issue unfairly as “freedom of speech versus feelings.” She noted the emotional labor that some employees on campus must still carry out. The committee agreed not to endorse the statement.

Kathy Ramsey thought that these reasons should be included in any draft of response to the faculty. The Chair agreed to work with Clare Counihan and Mariel Eaves on this draft.
The Chair noted her responsibility to guide the Forum to speak for the 8,500 staff employees of the University. She noted the suffering that her own mother and father had endured as an interracial couple. She worked hard to maintain her neutrality in these very difficult discussions. Katie Turner said that she would communicate the Executive Committee’s thoughts to the faculty on the statement.

The Chair asked that the “digital visitors and UNC free speech policy” topic be tabled in the interest of time. She had reached out to LGBTQ Center Director Terri Phoenix regarding harassment suffered by that unit. Mariel Eaves reported that the Center’s main harasser has received a no contact order from the court which will cover digital communications. Alan Moran asked if the Center’s space has received modifications for safety. The committee discussed safety arrangements at the University given recent events. Greg Smith asked who employees could call in times of trouble if not the campus police. Others mentioned mental health respondents.

Angenette McAdoo noted the University’s Employee Assessment Response Team, which is composed of Human Resources, University Counsel, and Campus Police representatives. She said that this team works to make threat assessments in different circumstances.
Clare Counihan noted that the Personnel Issues committee has discussed a resolution on employee compensation. Members discussed precepts of this resolution. The Chair noted that inadequate compensation and employee turnover affect the University’s ability to carry out its mission. She said that the Staff Assembly had been asked to take this issue to the various campuses for discussion. She asked that the committee forward a draft to the Office of Human Resources to prevent that Office from feeling blindsided. She asked McAdoo about setting up a conference call on this question with Vice Chancellor Felicia Washington and Associate Vice Chancellor Linc Butler.

The committee agreed to consider the resolution on first reading at the April Forum meeting given that the conversation with Human Resources on the question occurs. The motion was approved by acclamation.

The Chair noted the huge commitment involved in the Forum’s hosting the May 16 Chancellor’s Cup golf tournament. Kathy Ramsey said that planning for the tournament looks good so far, although there is still a need for volunteers. She asked about Community Service Leave (CSL) for this topic. Todd Hux offered material support for the tournament.

The Chair noted that resolution regarding Bylaws changes was tabled.

Todd Hux noted that the Blood Drive committee will host Red Cross officials at 10:30 a.m. on March 22nd.

The Chair noted speakers for the April meeting. Alan Moran suggested that the Forum make some reference to its previous resolutions in honor of sexual assault awareness month.
Mariel Eaves said that the LGBTQ Center will hold a drag brunch on Saturday, April 14th from 10-12 pm.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 1:44 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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