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Statement on BOT failure to action on Hannah-Jones Tenure Case

The Department of Romance Studies urges the Board of Trustees to take immediate action toward the granting of tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones. The BOT’s inaction and silence in recent weeks have already severely damaged our trust in the systems that ensure academic freedom and integrity at our university. It has also challenged our trust in the university’s stated commitment to diversity and the general public’s faith in the university’s claim to be committed to combating structural racism and discrimination in society.

The Department of Romance Studies has a diverse faculty who teach a diverse student body. Among us are scholars who study such areas as colonialism, the process and variability of national borders, and the negotiations of gender and racial identity, in ways that question commonly accepted ideas. We know from our day-to-day work that academic excellence depends on conditions in which all faculty members have the freedom to pursue their scholarship with rigor and probity in an inclusive, equitable environment. These conditions are also essential to our ability to recruit and retain excellent faculty.

If the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is to stand for academic excellence, it must reaffirm its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and to academic freedom without political interference. The BOT’s immediate review of Nikole Hannah-Jones’s tenure case is an essential first step in this regard and we urge its members to proceed immediately to approve her appointment with tenure.

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