UNC’s provost and the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences met with a group of graduate students and teaching assistants on Friday morning as there was a threat that some grades would be withheld from the university leading up to the end of the fall semester.
The protest withholding grades was organized in response to the UNC Board of Trustees voting to approve the plan brought forward by the campus administration regarding the future of the Confederate monument on the Chapel Hill campus known as Silent Sam. The statue was pulled down at a rally in August from its pedestal where it had stood for more than 100 years.
Trustees voted Monday to approve a recommendation calling for the monument to be moved to a new $5 million facility where other historical teaching and programming could be held.
That recommendation set off a large protest on Monday night, which resulted in charges being brought against two graduate students. Protesters Monday night called for graduate students and teaching assistants to withhold final grades until the plan was withdrawn.
That effort had grown to nearly 80 teaching assistants and instructors withholding nearly 2,200 final grades, according to a post from the organizing group on Friday.
The group has issued demands to be met before grades are released to the university: that the Board of Trustees withdraw the proposal and that instead the statue remain off campus and that the system Board of Governors “hold listening sessions in good with faith with the campus community.”
The group said that action will continue into next semester if a greater list of demands is not met: that the statue “never return to campus in any shape or form nor a center to its history be erected,” that trustees disclose information regarding university policing and that a newly proposed fee for building maintenance be withdrawn.
UNC provost Bob Blouin sent a letter to the university’s deans on Thursday night addressing the so-called “strike.”
Blouin wrote that this “type of action violates our university’s instructional responsibilities.”
He added that students are “entitled to receive their grades in a timely manner” and that there could be negative consequences for the students who have grants or other eligibility requirements.
“I trust that our faculty and graduate students will not act in a way that harms the interests of students and their families, and that these instructors meet the legal, ethical and moral responsibilities for which they have been contracted,” Blouin wrote. “Failure to meet their responsibilities to their students, including timely submission of final grades, will result in serious consequences.”
The proposal was also discussed at the Faculty Council meeting Friday afternoon.
The recommendation from the campus is scheduled to be discussed by the UNC System Board of Governors on December 14.