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Appalachian State University leadership passes resolutions in support of underrepresented students, revises chalking policy

By: Megan Hayes

BOONE—Appalachian State University’s Board of Trustees adopted a resolution in support of underrepresented students on Friday, Sept. 23. Appalachian’s Faculty Senate adopted a similar resolution on Monday, Sept. 19. On Wednesday, Sept. 28, Chancellor Sheri N. Everts announced a change in the facilities use policy related to chalking messages on university sidewalks.

Everts, in response to the resolutions of support, said, “On behalf of the entire Appalachian Community, I am pleased to see these strong demonstrations of support for our underrepresented students. The adoption of these resolutions sends a strong signal from our top leadership that Appalachian values diversity of thought, belief and community, and is committed to fostering an environment that is supportive to all.”

The Board of Trustees’ resolution referenced “reports and complaints from students about a confrontation between students of different racial and/or ethnic backgrounds… when underrepresented students used water to remove from campus sidewalks statements written with chalk, which statements were perceived to be harassing in nature and directed toward students of color,” on Sept. 14 and the intervention of University Police “to protect the safety of all students present.”

The board’s resolution reads in part:

“The Board of Trustees supports all efforts of students, faculty, staff and administrators to enhance safety of all students, employees and visitors, including, but not limited to, continuation of University Police Department efforts to engage in direct dialogue with students, Student Government Association efforts to facilitate dialogue among all students, and programs that help students and employees build communication skills and cultural competence.”

The resolution also encouraged university administrators to “take action, consistent with legal requirements, when necessary or appropriate to remedy the effects of harassment or other conduct that violates law or university policies and results in detrimental impact on academic programs, extracurricular activities and services offered by the university to all students.”

The resolution passed unanimously, and those in attendance gave the board a standing ovation after it passed.

Full text of the Board of Trustees resolution is available at: http://chancellor.appstate.edu/bot/_documents/board-of-trustees-201609-003-resolution.pdf

The Faculty Senate resolution, which was passed in a specially called, emergency meeting on Sept. 19, also responded to recent incidents of chalking on campus. The senate resolution, titled “Resolution Regarding Racial Incidents On Campus,” reads, in part:

“The Faculty Senate takes an unequivocal stand in support of underrepresented students… [and] calls on the administration, faculty and staff to work proactively to ensure that all members of the Appalachian community, and particularly underrepresented members of the Appalachian community, are protected from harassment, intimidation and targeting by any other groups.”

Full text of the Faculty Senate resolution is available at: http://facsen.appstate.edu/resolution-regarding-racial-incidents-campus

Upon the passing of these resolutions, Everts announced a revision to the facilities use policy. In a statement to campus she said, “It is clear from meetings and conversations that have taken place in the past two weeks in particular, that our university community wants meaningful, engaged dialogue around matters of race and inclusivity. It is within the context of these meetings and strong statements of support from our leadership boards that my cabinet has made the decision to revise the chalking policy.”

The change, said Everts, “supports our commitment to a safe and inclusive campus, and encourages interpersonal communication, which is key to moving our campus forward with meaningful dialogue.”

The revised policy on chalking is available at: http://policy.appstate.edu/Facility_Use#Chalking

Interim University Police Chief Todd Corley met with student leaders last week, and on Sept. 28, he sent a message to Appalachian students, which stated, in part, “Your University Police understand, respect and encourage students to exercise their right to freedom of speech/expression in a peaceful and respectful manner.”

Corley stated that in circumstances in which there is a disturbance on campus, the presence of police is to maintain peace, and encourage respectful dialogue. “Your University Police believe we, as members of the Appalachian Community, have too many similarities to let differences divide us,” he said.

The full statement from Corley is available at: http://police.appstate.edu

Appalachian’s underrepresented student population has increased from 14 percent in 2015 to 15 percent in 2016, with the first year classes for both years showing a significant increase from the year prior.

About Appalachian’s Board of Trustees

The Appalachian State University Board of Trustees is a 13-member body that promotes the development of the institution within the functions prescribed by the UNC Board of Governors. The board serves as advisor to the Board of Governors on matters pertaining to the university and also serves as advisor to the chancellor concerning the management and development of Appalachian. The powers and duties of the Board of Trustees are primarily defined and delegated by the Board of Governors.

About Appalachian’s Faculty Senate

The Faculty Senate consists of one member from each academic department, school, the library and five at-large representatives. The purpose of the Faculty Senate is to serve as the instrument through which the faculty of Appalachian State University considers and acts on university matters. To this end, the Faculty Senate participates in the formation, implementation and review of university policy.

About Appalachian

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low faculty-to-student ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

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