Faculty from several departments on the UNC – Chapel Hill campus – including at least communication, geography and the School of Law – have been calling for the removal of the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam from UNC’s McCorkle Place. That chorus added voices from the UNC School of Education on Monday afternoon.
A statement was posted on the school’s website saying that, according to speeches at the statue’s dedication, it “was erected as a symbol of hatred, bigotry, and white supremacy.”
The calls for Silent Sam’s removal have been ongoing for years but the intensity and consistency of these messages from the UNC faculty have picked up following the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this year where a counter protester was killed.
UNC students then held a rally in late August, on the first day of classes for the fall semester, protesting Silent Sam and the calls for its removal have now been a constant on the campus for several months.
Monday’s statement from the education faculty, staff and board of the graduate student association in the school calls Silent Sam’s presence on the UNC campus “contrary to our School’s commitment to the transformative power of education.”
The letter continues:
“If we are to be true to the people of the state and part of a world-class educational system dedicated to serving North Carolina and its people, we must ensure that our campus is welcoming to all learners. As educators, we have an obligation to continue the work of dismantling systemic racism in our schools, on our college campuses, and in our democratic society.”
UNC Chancellor Carol Folt has said as recently as the university Board of Trustees meeting earlier this month that she would order the statue be deemed a public safety threat and moved to a different location on campus, if she felt she had the authority to do so. But Folt and the leadership of the Board of Trustees have maintained that the university is legally limited in its options due to a law passed by the Republican-led General Assembly that prevents the moving of objects of remembrance.
UNC – Chapel Hill officials also say any petition to the state Historical Commission to have the monument be moved would have to come from the UNC System Board of Governors, and that body has publicly shown no interest in bringing such a petition up to this point.