By WECT Staff | June 12, 2020 at 4:49 PM EDT – Updated June 12 at 6:04 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A group of black student leaders at UNCW said they were “disappointed” by comments made by Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli during a meeting on Thursday.
According to a post on the UNCW Black Student Union Facebook page, the students discussed ways the university could show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
When it was suggested that the university could paint “Black Lives Matter” somewhere on campus, the post states that Sartarelli responded by saying, “If you are asking me tomorrow to start painting and decorating the university with Black Lives Matter, that’s going to be very difficult because all lives matter.”
“Although we too believe that all lives matter, our Chancellor must realize as well as those who think the same that all lives can’t matter until black lives matter,” the post states. “We cannot and shall not support a university whose leadership cannot stand with us, because this is not just a movement; this is a fight for our lives. Just know, we are aware, we are listening, and we are active. The Revolution is here.”
When reached for comment Friday afternoon, a UNCW spokeswoman forwarded WECT a response from Sartarelli that was also sent to the group.
“I want to make clear, and should have done so last night, that I believe the Black experience unequivocally must be the focus of efforts to increase the safety and well-being of our students and community,” Sartarelli said. “I am very grateful that you shared last night, and again this morning, what you believe our institutional needs to be if we are to make the progress that is both necessary and overdue. I assure you we will take great care to evaluate them and determine what our next steps may be, collaborating with our students at every opportunity.”
Sartarelli added that the university has an obligation to respond to the students’ concerns and any threats to their safety, education, or enjoyment of being a Seahawk.
“I also want to acknowledge that I must be open to listening, responding with sensitivity, and learning more about the concerns and needs of our Black student population. It is so important that moving forward, I do my best to respond with empathy and an open mind,” he said.
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