Letter to UNC Board of Trustees
Dear Mr. Stevens and other Members of the UNC Board of Trustees,
We write to you today out of grave concern for the future of our university as a leading institution of
higher education. Our system of higher education is built upon the understanding that knowledge is
increased and transmitted, science moves forward, and academic progress is achieved when scholars are
free to pursue their craft, even when, or perhaps especially when, their products of scholarship challenge
our understanding of our world, our society, and ourselves. This is at the heart of academic freedom, and
academic freedom is at the heart of what the university does. Therefore, we join our colleagues across
the University in demanding that you immediately consider the tenure case of Nikole Hannah-Jones,
including the body of her work and the careful review of it by highly esteemed individuals within her
field who are eminently qualified to make a judgment about whether she should receive tenure.
The Board’s failure to even consider her case is unjustifiable and has already done immense damage to
faculty morale and our national reputation. Furthermore, it undermines the department's ability to perform a basic and critical part of our job: namely, to mentor and prepare our faculty for
the tenure and promotion process.
We absolutely cannot continue to be a world-class university if we do not honor the principles of
academic freedom, and if we cannot firmly commit to treating all members of our community equitably.
Sincerely, the UNC Department of Linguistics