Defund Racism, a student-run club on UNCG’s campus, hosted their first meeting of the semester this past Tuesday, Aug. 30. The students heading up the organization stood in front of all of the attendees as the meeting began, and immediately invited everyone dispersed throughout the desks of the room to come join them in a circle on the floor.
Introductions and reintroductions followed—many of the students seemed to be returning members, but others were gathering for the first time. They began with a brief introduction of what Defund Racism was all about, emphasizing that their major priority was keeping conversation open, whether this be concerns held about actions taken at or around UNCG, or behaviors witnessed around campus.
They asked the attendees if they had seen anything that had angered them recently, whether this be on campus or off. At first, tentative comments were made, but as minutes passed, conversation flowed more freely.
Everything from employee payment on campus, to classroom sizes, to the new recreation center, to UNCG’s board of trustees was discussed. Personal stories were shared as well, including one from a student who described a professor — not from UNCG’s campus — who refused to refer to a student with their chosen pronouns.
Instances like these spurred the discussion of whether diversity training/tolerance education should be required for professors on college campuses. Racial matters are not the only ones of concern to Defund Racism. Rather, they are concerned with servicing those who are in minority groups.
In addition to discussing issues that angered the members, those leading the meeting encouraged everyone to not only point out what the problems they witnessed were, but to also offer potential solutions, like the idea of requiring tolerance training for professors.
They reminded everyone of the previous school year when the campus’ Aycock Auditorium was voted to be renamed. Aycock Auditorium was named after a known white supremacist and while this was ignored for decades, people on and around UNCG’s campus managed to change this with their activism and determination.
Defund Racism played a large role in the protesting that helped to influence the decision of the renaming of the auditorium. This was an inspiring reminder that the voices of the students are impactful in making changes on our campus. This semester, Defund Racism hopes to play a part in making other long-lasting impacts at UNCG. They plan to continue to protest other matters that they feel passionately about.
Their tumblr page shares more of what they strive to accomplish with their organization. A mission statement on their website reads: “We, students, faculty, staff, alumni and community at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro stand in solidarity with students at Mizzou and other colleges and universities across the country organizing and fighting against white supremacy in our institutions of higher-learning.” It goes on to say that they stand with those students that want systematic changes taken on and around campus. The statement concludes: “We firmly believe that UNCG, as a public institution that overwhelmingly serves students with a working class background, proudly marketing itself as one of the most diverse universities in the North Carolina system, has a long way to go in addressing the inequities as a result of systemic racism.”
Also on their tumblr page, is a section that lists their demands. Listed among these is a demand for respect from UNCG towards the dignity of students, staff, alumni, and the broader community. In addition, they demand “equitable funding of departments and programs that elevate the histories and challenges of traditionally marginalized and poor communities.” To read the rest of their demands and more information on the ones above, visit their tumblr at defundracism.tumblr.com.
They encourage submissions from students of art, poetry, articles, pictures and more that relate to and support their cause, as well as an “ask” page that encourages questions from those who want to learn or understand more.
Defund Racism invites anyone to join them at their meetings and at any other events they may partake in throughout the semester. They already have plans of protests in the works. Defund Racism can be contacted through their tumblr or Facebook page. They meet on Tuesdays at 6:00 p.m. in the School of Education Building.