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The Campus Y, founded in 1860, on UNC Chapel Hill’s campus is proudly the center for social justice on campus and affectionately identifies as the university’s “moral conscience.” It has played a vital organizational role in many social activist campaigns on campus throughout its history. As it is mainly student-run, it highlights students passions for social justice and serves as the space where that passion is cultivated into action.

  • A cartoon hung in the Campus Y about UNC Chapel Hill's social movements and race relations. Done by Bob Zschiesche from the Greensboro Daily News. (1)
  • A cartoon hung in the Campus Y mocking the perception of UNC Chapel Hill and its social justice driven student body. Done by Bob Zschiesche from the Greensboro Daily News.
The UNC Foodworkers’ Strike of 1969 was a collaborative movement between the foodworkers’ and the Black Student Movement on campus to demand fair labor practices. Under the food service director at the time, George Prillaman, workers were denied adequate payment, job descriptions and titles, the ability to move to a full-time position with benefits, and other oppressive employment practices. After attempting to speak with their supervisor, Ottis White, which was often met with the threat of being fired, the foodworkers sent a memorandum in October of 1968 to the “Employers of Lenoir Dining Hall” of 21 possible improvements to the current labor practices. Later that month, Prillaman cited a severe drought, which curtailed dishwashing, as reason to lay off ten employees. With the fear that all who spoke out would simply be laid off, the foodworkers reached out to the Black Student Movement to garner support, organization, and guidance as they began their fight for fair treatment. After months of unsuccessful meetings with administration, the foodworkers planned a peaceful protest. On February 23, 1969, the foodworkers of Lenoir Dining Hall set up their counters as usual, however, when supervisor Mr. White opened the doors to let students in, the foodworkers all sat down at the tables of the dining hall and announced that they were striking.

The Campus Y played a mediation role during the UNC Foodworkers’ Strike, fulfilling the need for a neutral space for the foodworkers and the administration to meet. As an organization, it never fully endorsed either side, however, many of its member did play organizational roles on behalf of the foodworkers. The students of the Campus Y helped prepare food for the Soul Food cafeteria in Manning Hall, while its director at the time, Anne Queen, lobbied for the foodworkers in her role as a member of the Human Relations Committee on campus.

As a hotbed of student activism throughout its history, the Campus Y has played a role in many student social movements on UNC Chapel Hill’s campus. Its involvement in the UNC Foodworkers’ Strike, though not ever officially active in the strike, its student members provided the organizational bridge between the foodworkers and the administration.
"Hippie Cartoon," in the Anne Queen Papers #5214, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Interview with Anne Queen by Lee HarrisJune 131974 E-0077, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection #4007Southern Historical CollectionWilsonLibraryUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Racial Tensions Cartoon," in the Anne Queen Papers #5214, Southern Historical Collection,
The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.