Faculty Council talks cops, courage and curriculum at Nov. 10 meeting
In addition to a proposed policy on campus free speech (see page 5), police practices, capacities curriculum and a professor’s courage packed the agenda of Faculty Council’s Nov. 10 meeting.
Chief of Police Jeff McCracken and Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Safety and Risk Management Derek Kemp responded to concerns about a plainclothes police officer operating near the Confederate Monument for a few days at the beginning of the semester. Their appearance followed a statement they issued explaining the role of police on campus.
Some people had accused the UNC Police officer of spying on students.
“There were no files created, no information collected on student leaders – none of that occurred, and never has occurred and will not occur as long as I’m here,” McCracken said.
McCracken explained that, in the days following the death of a counter-protestor at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, his department had a heightened concern for safety on the Carolina campus. That concern was particularly intense for the area around the Confederate Monument on McCorkle Place, “a lightning rod” for protestors and counter-protesters.
In addition to regular surveillance and patrols by uniformed officers near the statue, a plainclothes police officer operated there intermittently Aug. 26–Sept. 7.
“We had a potentially very volatile situation arise, and he just went and sat down at the statue. He was able to give us information real-time to try to help prevent that situation occurring,” McCracken said. “I made the decision to allow him to stay for a number of days, and once the situation cooled down, we pulled him back out. That’s really what happened.”
In its only vote of the meeting, Faculty Council unanimously approved a resolution honoring Dan Reichart, the professor burned while trying to put out a fire at the Davie Poplar. Due to the severity of his injuries when material in a backpack exploded at his feet, Reichart was unable to attend the meeting.
“He’s been in good spirits,” said fellow astronomy professor Christopher Clemens, who presented the resolution to the faculty. “He was joking the next morning, by email, that a lesson learned was not to kick an incendiary device.”
Sociology professor Andrew Perrin gave Faculty Council an update on the general education curriculum revision. Perrin is chair of the committee appointed by College of Arts & Sciences Dean Kevin Guskiewicz to work on the revision.
Designed to replace the current curriculum, possibly as early as 2019, this curriculum is “student-focused, evidence-based, capacity-driven and simplified,” Perrin said, listing the curriculum’s four “guiding principles.”
The original draft curriculum has been amended based on feedback from two town hall meetings and other comments. Faculty continue to complain about the lack of specific topics (e.g., history, literature, arts, quantitative skills) in the curriculum.