Memo Reveals University of North Carolina Plan to Sideline ‘Diversity of Thought’ Ahead of Nikole Hannah-Jones Appointment

Nikole Hannah Jones
by Angela Morabito


A memo obtained by Campus Reform reveals that the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media considered “diversity of thought” to be in conflict with its efforts to achieve social justice objectives.

Hussman Dean Susan King wrote the August 1, 2020 memo to university Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz. She stated, “There is a fundamental conflict between efforts to promote racial equity and understandings of structural racism, and efforts to promote diversity of thought. These two things cannot sit side by side without coming into conflict.”

King wrote the memo in anticipation of Nikole Hannah-Jones joining the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill faculty and teaching a class based on the “1619 Project.”

“Hannah-Jones will teach a large class open to all students that centers around the 1619 Project. The class will advance all our values around diversity and the media and also offer students- inside and outside Hussman-a much deeper understanding of systemic racism and the impact of slavery on America,” King wrote.

Despite an apparent willingness to deprioritize diversity of thought, the plan contains pages of recommendations aimed at advancing racial diversity according to a particular understanding of race and racism.

At the time the memo was written, “it [was] possible for a Hussman student to graduate without taking a course focused on the question of diversity,” according to the dean. King wrote, “Faculty believe that is a problem.”

The Hussman School was already requiring its faculty to incorporate diversity into their class materials, but King write that this was not enough. “Although each class taught in the school must have a syllabus that reflects the value of diversity,” King writes. “Faculty see it as spotty and they worry a new course or courses focused only on diversity will weaken the need to accent racism, social justice, and cultural competency throughout the curriculum.”

To fix this problem, the memo determined that future students should be required to take a race-focused class in order to graduate. By fall 2022, school leaders planned to “develop a required core foundational course in cultural competency that includes a global perspective as well as race, ethnicity, and structural racism for all of our students.”

The memo also stated that the curriculum of a Newswriting course should “incorporate style guides from the Asian American Journalist Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Native American Journalists Association National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association, and Transjournalist Association.”

The Trans Journalists Association’s style guide tells writers not to use the terms ‘biological sex,” “biological woman,” or “biological man,” because, in the guide’s own words, “these terms are inaccurate and often offensive.” It also tells writers to “avoid using the term ‘preferred pronouns,” because “someone’s pronouns are not a preference, but rather the only appropriate way to refer to that person.”

In addition to incorporating new style guides into the curriculum, the Hussman School also planned to “incorporate a racial analytic throughout all of our courses beginning the Fall 2020 semester.”

Campus Reform asked the University of North Carolina for comment; this piece will be updated in the event of a response.

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Angela Morabito is a Higher Education Fellow and Spokeswoman for Campus Reform. She is the former Press Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, where she went head-to-head with the Left, the media, and the teachers’ unions on behalf of the Trump administration and former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. In that role, she communicated to the press and the American public on all facets of education policy, with emphasis on academic freedom, students’ civil rights, and the student loan debt spiral. Before her appointment as Press Secretary, Angela worked in public affairs, digital media, and higher education administration. She has authored opinion pieces for the Washington Examiner and The Federalist. Red Alert Politics named her to the “30 Under 30” conservatives to watch in 2016. Angela graduated cum laude from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and later earned a Master’s degree, also from Georgetown, with particular focus on politics, culture, media, and ethics.
Photo “Nikole Hannah Jones” by Nikole Hannah Jones.





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