UNC lead­ers get ex­tra time on Silent Sam’s fate

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY JANE STAN­CILL js­tan­[email protected]­sob­server.com Jane Stan­cill: 919- 829- 4559

The dead­line will be ex­tended for UNC-Chapel Hill of­fi­cials to come up with a plan for the fu­ture lo­ca­tion for the Silent Sam Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ment.

UNC Board of Gov­er­nors Chair­man Harry Smith said Fri­day that trustees on the Chapel Hill cam­pus had asked for more time to sort through the op­tions. The orig­i­nal dead­line for a pro­posal to the Board of Gov­er­nors was Nov. 15. Now, Smith said, the dead­line will be slightly ex­tended but it will be in plenty of time for the sys­tem board to con­sider at its Dec. 14 meet­ing.

“I think it’s a fair re­quest,” he said. “It’s a lot more com­plex than I think any of us thought. You have to fig­ure out a de­tailed, thor­ough plan, which is what we’ve asked them for, that en­com­passes key and crit­i­cal con­stituents from all views and per­spec­tives. So I think the process has been a lit­tle more ro­bust than they an­tic­i­pated orig­i­nal- ly.”

The statue was top­pled by pro­test­ers on Aug. 20. Ever since, it has been kept in stor­age in an undis­closed lo­ca­tion.

In late Au­gust, the sys­tem gov­ern­ing board di­rected UNC-Chapel Hill Chan­cel­lor Carol Folt and the cam­pus Board of Trustees to come up with a “law­ful and last­ing” plan that would ad­dress the “dis­po­si­tion and preser­va­tion” of the 105-year-old statue of a Con­fed­er­ate soldier.

Since then, the cam­pus de­bate has fo­cused on where the statue should be ul­ti­mately placed.

Last month, the Fac­ulty Coun­cil, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ing body of the Chapel Hill fac­ulty, called for Silent Sam and the pedestal it was on to be per­ma­nently re­moved from the cam­pus. A res­o­lu­tion passed the coun­cil sup­port­ing a state­ment from black fac­ulty, who had said the statue had no place any­where on the cam­pus.

The ac­tion by fac­ulty fol­lowed lis­ten­ing ses­sions where in­di­vid­ual pro­fes­sors had of­fered ideas for where the statue could go. Those ideas were sub­mit­ted to the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

A 91-page re­port from the brain­storm­ing meet­ings in­cluded a host of sug­ges­tions for the monu- ment, in­clud­ing, bury­ing it, mov­ing it to a Civil War bat­tle­field or state or fed­eral mu­seum, or auc­tion­ing it off and us­ing the pro­ceeds for schol­ar­ships for African-Amer­i­can stu­dents.

Some ideas were prob­a­bly of­fered tongue in cheek, such as putting the statue in the yard of UNC lead­ers Folt or UNC sys­tem Pres­i­dent Mar­garet Spellings or in the board rooms of the trustees or Board of Gov­er­nors. At least one per­son sug­gested giv­ing it to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Some had cre­ative ideas, such as melt­ing down the statue for a piece of art­work or miniSi­lent Sam stat­ues to be sold. Some wanted to get rid of the statue, but leave the empty pedestal in place as a re­minder of Silent Sam and its top­pling.

Oth­ers said the statue had value in ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple about the univer­sity’s past, ei­ther in a vir­tual on­line ex­hibit on Civil Rights or in a trav­el­ing ex­hibit on the Jim Crow era. One sug­ges­tion was to put up the statue, hold an ed­u­ca­tional sym­po­sium, and then take it down in a cer­e­mony.

A 2015 state his­toric preser­va­tion law, which pre­vents the re­moval of ob­jects of re­mem­brance, says that if such an ob­ject is tem­po­rar­ily moved it must be re­turned to a place of sim­i­lar promi­nence within 90 days. Nov. 15 would have been within the 90-day pe­riod. The law does not ad­dress a sit­u­a­tion in which is statue is forcibly re­moved.

At least one mem­ber of the UNC Board of Gov­er­nors has said the mon­u­ment should be re­turned to its spot im­me­di­ately. Oth­ers have said putting the statue back in its place would pose a safety threat and cre­ate an un­wel­com­ing en­vi­ron­ment on the cam­pus.

JU­LIA WALL [email protected]­sob­server.com

A de­bate is un­der way about the fu­ture lo­ca­tion for the Silent Sam Con­fed­er­ate statue.

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