UNC – Chapel Hill will have beyond November 15 to submit a plan to the UNC System Board of Governors for the “disposition and preservation” of the Confederate monument on the campus known as Silent Sam.
The initial deadline was placed on the campus after protesters pulled the statue from its pedestal on August 20.
Board of Governors chair Harry Smith said after Friday’s meeting that campus officials had asked for an extension.
“I think it’s a fair request,” Smith said. “It’s a lot more complex than I think any of us thought. You have to figure out a detailed and thorough plan – which is what we’ve asked them for – that encompasses key and critical constituents from all views and perspectives.”
Smith said the deadline extension wouldn’t have any impact on the Board of Governors actually dealing with the proposal. He said, regardless of when the plan was submitted, the Board of Governors would not have publicly dealt with the recommendation until its December 14 meeting.
“What we do need is time for our membership to get the information, have time to digest it before the December 14 meeting.”
Smith said that the board would need time to ask questions before having a final decision at the meeting in mid-December. Who has final authority on approving of any plan could depend on the recommendation, according to UNC System legal counsel Tom Shanahan.
A 2015 law limits the movement of “objects of remembrance” from public grounds.
Smith said he expected a “robust” plan with “lots of detail.”
“I think they’re working hard,” Smith said. “I think they’ve had to have a lot of discussion to start forming up what they may want to propose, which we don’t know yet. And my expectation is it will be accomplished in a detailed analysis, and we’ll probably get some form of a presentation from those guys. And then we’ll go to work on it.”
There have been several protests and counter protests on the campus resulting in more than two dozen arrests since the statue was toppled, which Smith said they hoped to avoid moving forward.
“It’s never our intent nor desire to create angst or emotions,” Smith said. “But we do want to make sure we get it right.”
UNC – Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt said the university was grateful for the extension in a message to the campus community.
“The plan we are developing will be in the form of a recommendation to the Board of Governors for their consideration,” Folt wrote. “It will not be until that time, that we will know whether additional steps and approvals will be required.”
You can read the full message from Folt here.