Upendo Lounge

Chris Faison on creating inclusive spaces across the campus

Excerpt Description: Chris Faison imagines a campus that shifts all of its building spaces to be inclusive and welcoming to all students, rather than creating singular spaces for racialized minority groups in specific spaces across the campus.

Interviewee Name:
Chris Faison

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “When I think about the space issue, I know the black students have a space technically in our building, because Upendo [Lounge] was an historic space for black students. But as you pose that question and as we sit here today I really think that what would make the University really try to reconcile their history with the current time is to make – to Kendall’s earlier point – the entire university and lots of spaces open, because every group is going to, at some point, want their own space. I know the Latinx students have rose up this year, which they should, because they’ve been quiet for a long time and I’m definitely in solidarity with them. But I think at some point, you know, I think you start with the spaces that are the least inviting. So our office, the Center for Student Success and Academic Counseling, we’re partnering with the Honors Program because I’ll admit when I go over there now and walk through I still feel a little like, ‘Oh. Am I supposed to be in here?’
I think that, you know, we could really look at physical space in more creative ways, like by having more representation of the faculty across the spectrum, especially like women in STEM, like having more than one or two women in whatever science departments we have. But I definitely think that – and again if everyone viewed this as their issue–. I’m trying to think of other physical spaces. I think about it like, you know, definitely South Building. I mean, let’s be honest, Campus Y. I mean, I love Campus Y, but I’ve heard students of color talk about how they don’t always feel like that’s their place. Old East, Old West, you know, like when I was in school. I don’t know if that’s still an issue. The Carolina Inn. There are certain places – Carolina Club – that I think we could just be a little more intentional about ways to have physical faces in there that look like others, or even, you know, people that may have wheelchairs. We can carry this in lots of directions. I think it’s just–. It’s not incumbent upon the university to have fifty different spaces for fifty different groups. I think we need to – because that’s not going to happen. We just need to look at the spaces we have and think about it as how can be more inclusive, even if it’s just like a theme like once a month, just really turn the mirror on ourselves.”

Organization: Black Student Movement

Excerpt Length: 2:33

Interview Date: 2/8/2017

Interview Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Campus Space: Upendo Lounge

Citation: Interview with Chris Faison and Kendall Luton by Charlotte Fryar, 8 February 2017, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.