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Proclamation 23-01


May 3, 2023

WHEREAS, it is the goal of the UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum to foster and engage an open and positive environment throughout the University community and seek to continually improve the quality of life at UNC-Chapel Hill for its staff, students, and faculty; and,

WHEREAS, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (“UNC-Chapel Hill” or “University”) Employee Forum strongly believes in the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion; and,

WHEREAS, equity, diversity, and inclusion, as defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as “a conceptual framework that promotes the fair treatment and full participation of all people, especially populations that have historically been underrepresented or subject to discrimination because of their background, identity, disability, etc.;”1 and,

WHEREAS, the APA defines “equity” as “providing resources according to the need to help diverse populations achieve their highest state of health and other functioning,” “diversity” as “the representation or composition of various social identity groups in a work group, organization, or community,” and “inclusion” as “striv[ing] for an environment that offers affirmation, celebration, and appreciation of different approaches, styles, perspectives, and experiences”2; and,

WHEREAS, numerous3 media4 articles5 have highlighted the severe and ongoing concerns about accessibility on campus; and,

WHEREAS, the University’s documented failure to meet the accessibility needs of the campus community drastically impacts the safety and wellbeing of members of the University community at all levels and prevents those individuals from living, working, and learning at the University at the same level as their peers; and,

WHEREAS, the University’s documented failure to meet the accessibility needs of the campus community places the University at risk of financial, legal, life/safety, operational, and reputational harm; and,

WHEREAS, the University’s responses to the campus community have made persons with diverse abilities feel like they are a burden for requesting accommodations; and,

WHEREAS, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, states “[n]o otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States … shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”6; and,

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Education’s regulations implementing Section 504 state “[n]o qualified handicapped student shall, on the basis of handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any academic, research, occupational training, housing, health insurance, counseling, financial aid, physical education, athletics, recreation, transportation, other extracurricular, or other postsecondary education aid, benefits, or services to which this subpart applies”7; and,

WHEREAS, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended, states “no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity [which includes UNC-Chapel Hill], or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity”8; and,

WHEREAS, the UNC System’s 2022-2027 Strategic Plan states “[the UNC System’s] constituent institutions are individually distinct and mission-focused and collectively comprise an inclusive and vibrant System that is committed to excellence and the development of a diverse community of staff, students, and faculty”9 including people of diverse abilities; and,

WHEREAS, the UNC-Chapel Hill Strategic Plan, Initiative #1: Build Our Community Together, states: “[t]he extraordinary events that we witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic and the disturbing images and reports of racial and social injustices have brought to the forefront the fundamental challenges in our day-to-day life in the form of real and urgent concerns about accessibility, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, culture, health inequities and political orientation”10; and,

WHEREAS, as a preeminent institute of higher learning, and the flagship of the University of North Carolina system, UNC-Chapel Hill should be actively leading the charge to weave a rich tapestry of personal lived experiences and abilities; and

WHEREAS, the Employee Forum recognizes the ongoing accessibility challenges are complex and will require a lot of work to solve, but stand ready to support University leadership and other stakeholders with developing and implementing practical solutions; therefore,

BE IT PROCLAIMED, the Employee Forum fully supports and advocates for all University community members, alumni, and visitors with diverse abilities to have a safe and inclusive experience; and,

BE IT PROCLAIMED, the Employee Forum stands with staff, students, and faculty who have publicly expressed concern for accessibility on campus; and,

BE IT PROCLAIMED, the Employee Forum recognizes that there is an intersectionality between disability, health disparities, and racial inequities which adversely affects members of our community; and,

BE IT PROCLAIMED, the Employee Forum believes the University should go beyond the minimum accessibility standards required by federal law and instead focus on providing accommodations that meet the University’s moral and ethical obligations to the University community; and,

BE IT PROCLAIMED, that the Employee Forum is concerned the current level of accessibility on campus does not align with the University’s stated commitment to excellence and inclusion.



  1. American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  2. Ibid
  3. Fore, P. (2022, September 6). “A violation of civil rights”: UNC maintenance backlog highlights lack of campus accessibility. The Daily Tar Heel.
  4. Fore, P. (2023, February 23). ‘Blatant disrespect and harm’: Unreliable elevators highlight campus accessibility issues. The Daily Tar Heel.
  5. Egan, E., & Reilly, L. (2023, March 1). ‘No mind or body left behind’: The 32-hour fight for accessibility at UNC. The Daily Tar Heel.
  6. Nondiscrimination under Federal grants and programs. 29 U.S.C. § 794 (2015).
  7. Treatment of students; general, 34 C.F.R. § 104.43(a) (2000).
  8. 42 U.S.C. § 12132 (1990).
  9. The University of North Carolina System. (n.d.). Higher expectations: University of North Carolina System strategic plan for 2022-2027, 18.
  10. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (2020). Carolina Next: Innovations for public good.