Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018

Silent Sam decision provokes loud response at UNC

The statue known as Silent Sam was protested in August by the University of North Carolina. School officials have proposed to return the statue to campus, and many campus groups are objecting to those plans. (Gerry Broome / AP) Susan Svrluga Reporter Covering Higher Education for the Grade Point blog December 7 at 6:00 AM Shock and anger at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this week following a decision by school leaders to return to Confederate monument to campus. On Friday, Silent Sam, who was lectured in August, off campus, several professors said. "It's the most divisive issue," said Jay M. Smith, "We're just torn up over this." Savannah Putnam, the student body president, said, "This is all-consuming." On Monday, the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees approved a plan to build an education and history center – $ 5.3 million to $ 800,000 a year to operate – to house the bronze statue is a less-prominent site on campus. A report presenting the plan says that school officials would prefer to remove the monument from the UNC and place it in a place such as a museum, but state law does not allow that. The State University of North Carolina Board of Governors is awaiting approval from the North Carolina Historical Commission to move the monument to the new building on campus. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Chapel Hill on Monday night, furious about what some called a $ 5 million shrine to white supremacy. Some graduate students called for a strike by teaching assistants, asking them to withhold end-of-term grades as they rejected the racist symbol and did not want it on the campus. And some objected to the plans because they said the statue should be returned to the pedestal in the visible campus where it stood for more than 100 years. A group of Sons of Confederate Veterans raised a 20-foot-by-30-foot Confederate flag along a highway in North Carolina to protest the school's decision regarding the statue, which depicts a young soldier and salutes students who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. [Silent Sam should stay on UNC campus in safer location, university leaders suggest] Student groups issued statements decrying the decision, and student leaders said they plan to join others protesting next week. "This racist monument, symbolic of the worst part of our University's past, has no place on our campus," they wrote, "and we are ashamed of those who voted for its return." Putnam, the student body president, said, " A lot of people are just upset and disappointed. "Activists have been pushing for the statue to be removed for many years, but the issue is now on the minds of most students, she said:" Now that it's down, let it stay down Chris Suggs, a leader in the school's Black Student Movement, said in an email, "Returning this monument to the Confederacy and White supremacy of our campuses, our University's leaders are reaffirming the racist beliefs in 1913. "Some graduates have been vocal in their objections as well. Leah Josephson, co-chair of the Carolina Ann Arbor Club in Michigan, said she was raised by Chancellor Carol Folt to keep Silent Sam on campus . "Maybe I should not be surprised," she said, "but I do not think it would be a bigotry and racism." So she launched a petition for UNC graduates, students, faculty and staff, which had more than 1,100 signatures Thursday, to send a message to the board of governors before it votes on the plan. "The Board of Trustees and Chancellor Folt have given the bigotry of a big number of major donors and right-wing politicians in their outrageous plan to spend more than $ 5 million of taxpayers' dollars to build an on-campus shrine to racism and oppression that Silent Sam represents, "they wrote. "This shrine to the Silent Sam and the KKK would require a $ 800,000 per year in operating safety buffer." from campus. "I think young alumni really feel that Silent Sam does not represent the Carolina Way for us," Josephson said. A recent former leader of the Carolina Arbor Club, Brooke Wolford, said she hoped that by signing and sharing the petition, they might send a message to the board of governors that alumni are upset. An online petition from the popular social advocacy site Care2 had nearly 3,900 digital signatures Thursday, from people agreeing with its statements such as, "When anti-racist activists toppled this statue, they joined protesters and organizations across the United States taking down monuments, renaming United States. "Meanwhile, a member of the University of the North Carolina System Board of Governors expressed disdain for the plan, calling it cowardly, and not in compliance with the law. Thom Goolsby, a lawyer and former state senator, did not respond to a request for comment, but posted his views on social media this week. .

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