Inclusion! Inclusion! Inclusion! The Chancellor’s plans for UNCW in wake of controversial new laws

Casey McAnarney | News Editor

Now officially installed as Chancellor of UNC Wilmington, Chancellor José Sartarelli turns his attention away from ceremonies and towards an issue facing campus: diversity and inclusion.

The installation ceremony, which took place this past Thursday, March 31 on Hoggard Lawn, was Chancellor Sartarelli’s official introduction to the university even though he has been acting as chancellor for some time now.

The ceremony consisted of speeches and performances from UNCW professors like Dr. Stephen Meinhold and Dr. Clyde Edgerton as well as from controversial new UNC system president, Margaret Spellings.

With a diverse group of student flag bearers there to represent their respective native countries as well as military officials, tons of press and dignitaries sitting within the first few rows of the audience, one could see that the university went all out when it came to officially introducing the new chancellor.

However, the entire event was overshadowed by recent legislation that students want the university to respond to.

Student activists decided to silently protest during the ceremony by duct taping their mouths and holding up signs that retaliated against the newly passed House Bill 2 and the recently proposed Campus Free Expression Act.

One silent protester, UNCW sophomore Kiley Rosier, explained how she wanted to see the chancellor or the university vocally stand up against such laws that could damage the inclusive atmosphere UNCW has been working towards fostering, which is why Rosier chose to protest.

The chancellor did send out a statement to all students in an email that discussed the possible implications of the bill, but students like the ones who protested want a more definite answer on the university’s opinion.

In the email, Chancellor Sartarelli explained that although the university will have to adhere to this new law, “what will not change is our [UNCW’s] long-held commitment to an inclusive environment.”

There are policies in place at UNCW including the university Equal Opportunity Policy and the Harassment Prevention Policy, designed to prevent employee harassment or discrimination, and similar policies exist for students with the Code of Student Life and the Sexual Misconduct Policy

Chancellor Sartarelli linked all of these policies in his email explaining how even though the university has not yet fully evaluated how this new legislation will affect UNCW, nothing will change these policies which reflect the values present in the Seahawk Respect Compact.

And this sentiment of not allowing the values of UNCW to change was still held by the chancellor at the press meeting post ceremony.

In the meeting, Chancellor Sartarelli said that making sure the university as a whole is diverse is important. He mentioned diversifying the faculty and staff as well as the search committees hired by UNCW.

Another area of interest for the coming year is working with organizations like Centro Hispano and the Upperman African American Center, since these centers were constituted with the purpose of attracting diversity.

Centro Hispano already goes with UNCW counselors to high schools in order to attract young minorities to the college, and since Upperman will be having a new person come in to take over, the chancellor finds that this is the time to push more recruitment techniques.

But bringing in a diverse student body is only the beginning, according to the chancellor. The other issue is working to retain these students.

Working with these student centers will prove to be vital to keeping diversity because these centers act as lifelines to minority students, according to Chancellor Sartarelli. There are plenty of areas on campus for students to reach out to for assistance, but these are even more important because they can reach out to the underrepresented populations of UNCW.

On top of diversity of the UNCW community, Chancellor Sartarelli discussed how diversity of thought is a necessary change.

Diversity, for the chancellor, has to be considered broadly. For example, Chancellor Sartarelli has worked in many countries. He dealt with people of different creed as well as races with that job, and what he learned is that the more important issue is fostering a diversity of thought within the community.

When hiring faculty and staff and when accepting students, the chancellor plans to take into consideration people who do not have limited thought.

Overall, Chancellor Sartarelli wants to assure everyone at UNCW that there is a determination to make this campus more inclusive and more diverse, and we are not going to move away from that.

Though the university is attempting to make strides in inclusion and new legislation could deter that, the chancellor wants the community to know that they are not going to change UNCW policies.

“We are a state institution that has to learn that law,” said Chancellor Sartarelli. “We will have to apply it without hurting our principles.”