December 17, 2019 Executive Committee Minutes
Attending: L.E. Alexander, Jen DeNeal, Phillip Edwards, Shayna Hill, Clinton Miller, Arlene Medder, Kadejah Murray, Ayla Ocasio, Jim Potts, Laura Pratt, Greg Smith, Rose Thorp
Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 11:33 a.m. She requested a motion to approve the October and November draft minutes of the committee. Arlene Medder made this motion, seconded by Jen DeNeal. The motion was approved by acclamation.
Ayla Ocasio and Matt Banks presented the Forum’s monthly budget report. Banks noted an idea from Alan Moran to add a second television monitor to the Forum Office to make reading reports during committee meetings easier. He thanked Moran for finding and moving the new chairs for the conference room. The committee generally agreed to an expenditure of $700 for the purpose of buying a second monitor. Jim Potts noted that the budget report should state that the Blood Drive committee has $1900 available through the remainder of this year.
The Chair noted the draft proposal to revise the Forum’s electoral system. She asked that Banks contact Stephanie Forman to ensure that her perspective is represented in this discussion. James Holman noted concerns about the number of delegates serving from one department. Jen DeNeal thought that the Forum needs to do more outreach in its election process. The Chair recalled that there have been campus factions that have bullied candidates in the past. Kadejah Murray shared that the Office of Faculty Governance has produced a flyer with candidate information that is sent to all faculty prior to the faculty election. She noted that there is a cost associated with this document, however.
The committee agreed to submit the proposal to the full Forum for consideration in January.
The Chair sought committee members’ thoughts regarding reports of a legal settlement stating that the UNC Board of Governors will pay the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) $2.6 million to take possession of the Confederate Monument (“Silent Sam”). She provided a draft letter to the Chancellor for the committee to discuss and revise. She praised interim Chancellor Guskiewicz’ statement about the settlement prior to his formal appointment as Chancellor. However, she characterized the settlement itself as a “gut punch” to employees who have not received raises this year.
Jen DeNeal thought that emphasizing these two points was a good focus for the letter. She thought that the $74,999 payment to the SCV to stay away from campus for three years presented a bad message. Arlene Medder likened the payment to blackmail.
Other delegates provided editorial feedback. Kadejah Murray said that the settlement made her feel unsafe. She suggested a change to the letter cautioning that other organizations will seek similar payments. She thought the letter should emphasize this risk of alienation over the lack of staff salary increases.
Laura Pratt asked if the letter should include any call to action. The Chair suggested seeking salary increases from campus endowments, an idea which she felt had been dismissed in previous discussions. James Holman raised the continuing question of finding recurring dollars for these increases.
The committee agreed to send the letter to the Chancellor’s Office, then in a few days to send the letter to the entire campus. Members discussed the use of a preamble to the letter to provide employees reading an understanding of the letter’s purpose. The Chair thought it important to emphasize something which can be done to help staff, rather than making a list of demands in the letter. She advocated inviting the Chancellor to attend future Executive Committee meetings to discuss positive ways to address an increase in fighting, prejudice and retaliation.
The Chair recalled tension over cleaning the Silent Sam monument among Facilities Services staff. She noted the difficulty that can result when some staff refuse work on certain projects.
Arlene Medder sought more specifics about action steps in the letter. She thought that conversations could be productive if they involve a range of staff employees. The Chair recalled that departmental staff meetings in a different context had not been widely attended. L.E. Alexander suggested that the Forum’s Executive Committee is composed of this range of employees and meets in a relatively quiet place and time.
Rose Thorp thought it important that the Chancellor consult with line staff on this question. She said that staff employees must work side-by-side with coworkers who might not support removal of the Confederate Monument. These employees may not feel they can publicly express their feelings on the issue without shunning or other punishment from coworkers. She said that there is no excuse not to know, now after recent discussion, of the historically racist origins of the statue.
L.E. Alexander noted comments in the Faculty Council meeting that some faculty feel unsafe with this settlement agreement in place. These faculty further predict a problem in recruiting strong students to Carolina given the settlement. Jen DeNeal proposed including language in the letter regarding recruitment and retention of top staff and faculty.
Greg Smith moved that the revised letter be sent to the Chancellor and then to University staff. Arlene Medder seconded this motion. (At this point of the meeting, there were nine members present, a quorum under the Forum Bylaws.) The motion was approved unanimously.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:30 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary