An update on Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (HB2) Demonstrations
Dear Appalachian Community:
Monday morning I met with three students who represented the HB2 student protestors who are occupying the first floor in the Administration Building. They shared a list of concerns from the entire occupying group.
Following the initial meeting, I met with the assembled protestors and read a statement. Much of it is outlined below.
We are addressing student protestors’ concerns and will communicate regularly about our progress. One of the things I learned in the initial meeting was a concern related to intent versus impact. Students shared that our initial HB2 email messages to the campus, while intended to be supportive and keep our community informed, were received by the students protesting as neutral. That was not our intent, but I understand and apologize for any negative impact. I want to thank my colleagues who have been meeting and talking with student protestors over recent days. We are truly fortunate to have a dedicated and caring team of professionals here at Appalachian.
Our campus values community engagement, civil discourse and thoughtful debate. We also are fortunate to have a dedicated and passionate student body. Student protestors are exercising their right to free speech and joining many across the state and nation in expressing their opposition to HB2.
Many have courageously been sharing deeply personal stories. It is this personal connection, the well-being of our students, faculty and staff, that touches me most deeply and causes me the greatest anxiety. It saddens me greatly that anyone is suffering as a result of HB2…especially on a university campus where we should stand as beacons of acceptance and inclusion. Further, I told student protestors that I value each of them for who they are and I am dedicated to working together to ensure our campus is inclusive to all beliefs, backgrounds and identities.
Attorneys for our university and for our system have been helping us navigate this uncertain territory where federal and state laws may be at odds. Appalachian finds itself in the middle of this territory where we are required to comply with the laws of our state and work diligently to support our community during a time of fear and anxiety. I know there has been particular concern about whether or how we intend to enforce the provisions of the new law regarding bathrooms and changing facilities. HB2 does not contain provisions concerning enforcement of the bathroom and changing facility requirements.
I am among many at Appalachian, and across the UNC system, in the challenging situation of being opposed to HB2; however, our charge makes our campuses subject to it, while also working to embody our campuses’ commitment to a diverse, inclusive, safe and supportive environment for all members of our community.
Appalachian is known for a commitment to sustainability. One key concept of true sustainability is social equity and this concept is at the core of who we are at Appalachian. I am confident that our campus remains and will remain committed to this central and critical ideal and that we will find a way to move forward together. It is essential that we find a solution to this important issue, and I am committed to doing my part to reach a solution that ensures the protection of our diverse community and values each individual within it.
As an important note, this afternoon, Governor McCrory signed Executive Order 93, to clarify existing state law and provide new protections for North Carolina residents. You can view the order and his statement here: http://governor.nc.gov/press-release/governor-mccrory-takes-action-protect-privacy-and-equality.
Sheri N. Everts