June 23, 2020
Alumni and friends,
The events of the past few weeks have called on all of us. We have been asked to reflect on the roles power and privilege play in our lives, both individually and within our communities. We have been charged with dismantling systems in which we all participate that continue to perpetuate racism and violence against Black people in America. Many of us — probably most of us — have come to realize that we cannot do this as individuals; more now than ever, we need to come together as a community to do better.
With education comes responsibility. As technologists and toolsmiths, our ability to use our resources and talents to respond to societal problems and systemic inequities is powerful. We share the commitment to helping to solve the world’s greatest problems.
Our lived experiences shape the ways we move through society. Collectively, as a community here at Carolina, we recognize we are all processing and experiencing the last few weeks in our individual ways. Regardless, the challenges of today call to all of us. And this time feels different — a time in which, if we ignore the call to action, we will have missed an opportunity to shape society for the better.
Consider how you will make your impact. You all have a voice, with an opportunity to contribute to the betterment of your community – both here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and beyond. There are many inspiring stories: Our student leaders for organizations like Black in Technology and Pearl Hacks are already actively engaged. Faculty and alumni created and supported the UNC CS Summer of Code, a project-based learning opportunity for students whose internships were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Class of 2020 UNC CS grad, Nikhil Komirisetti, who created accessible ways to communicate with elected representatives, reminds us all that we can use our talents and skills to make a difference. And we thank all of you that have contributed time and funding to our department — you are helping to support our work moving forward; creating a community that supports the future leaders in our field.
In a time that will require us to come together and rely on each other, we know that you will lead others — with voice and/or action. Although we face many uncertainties, we technologists and toolsmiths know that we all have a role in shaping our future. And together, we can institute a powerful movement towards change — to develop positive solutions to the communities we serve and make the tech industry more equitable.
How will you choose to act? We are asking ourselves the same. It’s time for us to step up to the challenge and make a meaningful difference. Silence and inaction makes us complicit. It’s time to change the course. If you have ideas on how to effect change, please let us know.
Let’s do better,
Brent C. Munsell