Student reacts to UNCW Chancellor’s ‘All lives matter’ comment

Updated: Jun. 13, 2020 at 5:03 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - As cities across the country paint Black Lives Matter on streets in support of the calls for justice and change, UNCW’s Chancellor is facing heat for his reaction to a similar request.

Some students still aren’t convinced that UNCW’s Chancellor understands the Black Lives Matter movement, after his response to the African-American student population.

During a meeting with Chancellor Jose Sartarelli, a pitch was made asking the university to paint “Black Lives Matter” somewhere on campus. Sartarelli essentially declined and said “All lives matter." He later wrote that “the Black experience unequivocally must be the focus of efforts to increase the safety and well-being of our students and community."

But, one student on the call with other African-American student leaders says she feels his words in the letter don’t add up to what was said in the meeting.

If you look at UNCW’s student demographics by the latest state numbers in Fall 2018, the African American population only makes up 5-percent of the school. On UNCW’s website, their total diversity shows 18-percent of the school is a race or ethnicity other than white.

Tabatha Radaker says she wouldn’t be surprised if that number starts to go down.

“I think that the Chancellor not showing solidarity with the movement and the school’s reaction to everything, I think directly correlates with the fact that the numbers are so low," says Radaker. "When the school does things like this and doesn’t show that it cares about its black students then other black students aren’t going to want to come. I think there’s a direct correlation with the two and the numbers aren’t going to grow until something changes with the culture of the school.”

Black student leaders have said they will not support a university whose leadership cannot stand with them. And Chancellor Sartarelli has said it is the schools responsibility to respond to any concerns from students.

A petition calling for Chancellor Sartarelli’s resignation or removal has more than 3-thousand signatures as of Saturday afternoon.

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