‘I love that the black faculty and sports figures have come out against it…’
(Jane Stancill and Tammy Grubb, The News & Observer – Raleigh, N.C.) The UNC system Board of Governors rejected a recommendation Friday that the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill build a $5.3 million history center that also could house Silent Sam.
A committee has been formed to come up with a new recommendation by March 15. The BOG governance committee also will review existing policies on student, faculty and staff conduct and propose changes “that set clear expectations” and provide for sanctions, “including suspension, termination and expulsion” for those who engage in conduct that impacts safety.
Earlier in the week, graduate-level teaching assistants had threatened to withhold approximately 2,200 grades until their demands were met—including that Silent Sam never be returned to campus. It is unclear whether the board’s action will satisfy the protestors’ conditions.
The board’s closed-door meeting to discuss the fate of the long-disputed Silent Sam Confederate statue on the Chapel Hill campus outlasted the dozens of protesters who gathered in the Friday Center parking lot in a steady, cold rain.
The full board went into closed session shortly before 11:30 a.m.
UNC President Margaret Spellings, at her last Board of Governors meeting before she steps down early next year, said she and board Chairman Harry Smith met for two hours Thursday with a group of faculty, staff and students on the Chapel Hill campus about their concerns regarding Silent Sam. She called the conversation “deeply productive and thoughtful.”
About 80 students, UNC faculty members and others who were opposed to the statue set up in front of the UNC Center for School Leadership Development on Friday, as the governing body of the UNC system began a series of committee and other meetings at 8 a.m.
One person was arrested as police moved people from the front of the building.
People had begun setting up before 7 a.m. for the planned protest. Barricades prevented protesters from standing on the sidewalk in front of the building.
Protesters attempted to set up a tent in front of the building, but police asked them to remove it.
Carrboro resident Margaret Herring said she has been protesting Silent Sam for more than a year.
“I think it’s great,” Herring said of the protest. “I love that the black faculty and sports figures have come out against it.”
Inside, the Budget and Finance committee of the board reviewed tuition and free proposals for 2019-20 as cheers could be heard from the protesters outside.
Leaders from the Chapel Hill campus face intense opposition to their proposal to create a $5.3 million history center on campus to house the statue.
The monument, which was toppled from a campus pedestal by protesters in August, has been the source of conflict and debate for years. But in the current semester, the university has been consumed by it. The issue now has the university in the midst of a strike, with graduate student teaching assistants threatening to withhold undergraduate grades at the end of the semester.
Jerry Wilson, a UNC graduate student in the School of Education, protested while wearing a white rope noose with its ends wrapped in Carolina blue tape.
“I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. I don’t have high hopes for what’s going on in this building,” he said. “No matter what they say or do, we have each other and we will continue to have each other.”
(c)2018 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.