Fac­ulty seeks say about Sam as UNC in­struc­tors strike

The News & Observer - - Triangle & N.c. - BY TAMMY GRUBB AND JANE STANCILL [email protected]­ald­sun.com js­tan­[email protected]­sob­server.com

A fac­ulty group called Fri­day for UNC lead­ers to drop a plan to keep the Silent Sam Con­fed­er­ate statue on cam­pus and asked that a fac­ulty com­mit­tee be in­cluded in any fu­ture plan­ning for the statue.

The UNC Fac­ulty Coun­cil also rec­om­mended, in a sep­a­rate res­o­lu­tion, that the Fac­ulty Coun­cil ap­point a com­mit­tee to weigh in on the statue’s fu­ture.

“We have a des­per­ate need for moral lead­er­ship from the top that will have the courage to break an un­just law and say (enough), and take the risks that that in­volves,” said Harry Wat­son, a UNC pro­fes­sor spe­cial­iz­ing in South­ern his­tory.

The meet­ing came as a grow­ing strike in­volv­ing UNC teach­ing as­sis­tants and in­struc­tors threat­ened to with­hold thou­sands of stu­dents’ fi­nal grades from the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

At least 79 teach­ing as­sis­tants and in­struc­tors have joined the strike to protest UNC’s pro­posed $5.3 mil­lion his­tory cen­ter to house the Silent Sam Con­fed­er­ate statue, ac­tivist lead­ers posted on­line Fri­day morn­ing.

Nearly 2,200 grades and count­ing will not be re­leased un­til the UNC Board of Trus­tees with­draws the plan and the gov­ern­ing board of the UNC sys­tem holds “lis­ten­ing ses­sions in good faith with the cam­pus com­mu­nity,” ac­tivists said.

UNC Chan­cel­lor Carol Folt and Robert Blouin, provost of the Col­lege of Arts and Sciences, were in­ter­rupted sev­eral times dur­ing the Fac­ulty Coun­cil’s over­flow meet­ing Fri­day.

UNC ju­nior Angum Check stood in the back of the room, hold­ing up a card­board sign that read: “Carol Folt is the mod­er­ate MLK warned us about more de­voted to order than jus­tice.”

Check, co-chair of the UNC Black Congress, and other stu­dents then took the front of the room and be­gan to read from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 let­ter writ­ten from the Birm­ing­ham, Alabama, jail.

In the let­ter, King de­scribes two types of laws: just and un­just laws, which is “no law at all,” and rec­og­nizes the mod­er­ate voices of his move­ment that sup­ported so­cial jus­tice but not the meth­ods used.

Check, turn­ing to Folt, asked about an ap­pen­dix to Mon­day’s Silent Sam re­port that sug­gested form­ing a 40-mem­ber sys­temwide po­lice force to meet fu­ture civil dis­obe­di­ence on cam­pus. She also noted the many black stu­dents who live near the for­mer Odum Vil­lage site on south cam­pus iden­ti­fied as a pos­si­ble home for the his­tory cen­ter.

The cen­ter could at­tract white su­prem­a­cists and Con­fed­er­ate sup­port­ers who might pose a threat to those stu­dents, she said. If UNC cares about stu­dent safety, the statue needs to leave cam­pus, she said.

Ed­win Fisher, a School of Pub­lic Health pro­fes­sor, said he thinks the ad­min­is­tra­tion is sin­cere but is “fail­ing to rec­og­nize the sea change in your front yard.” Un­til the stu­dents in­ter­rupted the coun­cil’s meet­ing, Fisher said he “was sit­ting here in ut­ter dis­be­lief” that Folt and other of­fi­cials had not changed their state­ments since Mon­day.

“There seems to be a fun­da­men­tal fail­ure here to un­der­stand the pain, the suf­fer­ing, the af­front, the as­sault on peo­ple that has been per­pe­trated by the statue, that has been per­pe­trated by the ac­tions that the statue sought to jus­tify,” Fisher said. “Un­for­tu­nately, it is still be­ing per­pe­trated by the busi­ness-as-usual of the pro­posal that has been brought for­ward.”

The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trus­tees ap­proved the Silent Sam plan Mon­day, with two mem­bers dis­sent­ing. The plan calls for com­plet­ing the univer­sity his­tory cen­ter by 2022. Folt has said the univer­sity will seek state fund­ing to build the cen- ter, which could cost an ad­di­tional $800,000 a year to op­er­ate.

Folt and sev­eral trus­tees said they would pre­fer to house Silent Sam, which was torn down by protesters in Au­gust, at an of­f­cam­pus site. But they said that would not com­ply with a state law on pre­serv­ing his­toric mon­u­ments.

“Maybe you don’t have to have the ar­ti­fact there, but there is all the sto­ries … ev­ery word ev­ery one per­son has said here needs to be there for all time,” Folt said Fri­day. “Maybe it doesn’t look like that’s what we want, but that is ab­so­lutely what the cen­ter is sup­posed to do, be­cause if you don’t tell those sto­ries, they don’t go on any fur­ther.”

The UNC sys­tem Board of Gov­er­nors will con­sider the plan Dec. 14. The N.C. His­tor­i­cal Com­mis­sion also must ap­prove the plan.

At least one Board of Gov­er­nors mem­ber, Thom Goolsby, has ad­vo­cated for re­turn­ing the statue to its base on Mc­Corkle Place. He called the trus­tees’ plan “sheer cow­ardice” in a video state­ment re­leased this week.

Hun­dreds of demon­stra­tors gath­ered Mon­day night to protest the de­ci­sion, as grad­u­ate stu­dent ac­tivist Maya Lit­tle called for UNC’s teach­ing as­sis­tants to strike.

The move­ment has been grow­ing, with ac­tivist groups and stu­dents at other col­leges voic­ing sup­port. Stu­dent ac­tivists have said the teach­ing as­sis­tants will with­hold stu­dents’ grades from the univer­sity un­til the Silent Sam plan is with­drawn.

Even if grades are re­leased, they said, the protest will con­tinue into the spring se­mes­ter and un­til ad­di­tional de­mands are met:

The Con­fed­er­ate

● statue and its base are per­ma­nently re­moved from cam­pus.

The Board of Trus­tees ● dis­closes the “nec­es­sary changes” iden­ti­fied for UNC po­lice in the ap­pen­dix from a panel of na­tional se­cu­rity ex­perts. The panel rec­om­mended UNC add a “mo­bile force pla­toon” to as­sist UNC po­lice and that the UNC sys­tem cre­ate a sep­a­rate mo­bile po­lice force at a cost of $2 mil­lion a year.

UNC with­draws its

● plan to in­crease stu­dent fees to pay for build­ing main­te­nance, and in­vest the money that might pay for the new cen­ter, its up­keep and a pro­posed in­crease in polic­ing fund­ing in build­ing main­te­nance, higher wages for grad­u­ate and cam­pus work­ers, elim­i­nat­ing grad­u­ate stu­dent fees, den­tal in­sur­ance for grad­u­ate stu­dents and re­duced park­ing fees for all work­ers.

Grad­u­ate stu­dents and in­struc­tors ex­pressed the same de­mands early Fri­day in a meet­ing called by Blouin and Kevin Guskiewicz, dean of the Col­lege of Arts and Sciences, ac­cord­ing to #StrikeDownSam Twit­ter posts.

In a let­ter re­quest­ing the meet­ing, the men warned that in­struc­tors who fail to re­lease fi­nal grades ex­pose the univer­sity to law­suits and threaten stu­dents’ abil­ity to grad­u­ate and get mil­i­tary com­mis­sions, schol­ar­ships, grants, loans, jobs and ex­tended visas.

The let­ter, posted to Twit­ter, also warns in­struc­tors against us­ing their role in the class­room to re­cruit stu­dent sup­port for the strike. Stu­dents and par­ents have com­plained to the univer­sity, Guskiewicz and Blouin said.

“Such ac­tions have been in­ter­preted as co­er­cion and an ex­ploita­tion of the teacher-stu­dent re­la­tion­ship and in fact are a vi­o­la­tion of stu­dents’ First Amend­ment rights as well as fed­eral law,” they said.

A Dec. 5 let­ter signed by 24 UNC School of Ed­u­ca­tion fac­ulty and staff noted the statue’s “con­tin­u­ing pres­ence on our cam­pus is con­trary to our School’s com­mit­ment to the trans­for­ma­tive power of ed­u­ca­tion.”

“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,” the School of Ed­u­ca­tion let­ter said.

Sci­ence ed­u­ca­tion pro­fes­sor Eileen Par­sons talked Fri­day about the pain she felt as a black stu­dent, alumna and pro­fes­sor see­ing the statue on cam­pus.

“The fact that peo­ple are not hu­mane enough to un­der­stand that in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing is just in­com­pre­hen­si­ble to me,” she said.

School of Ed­u­ca­tion fac­ulty and staff also pledged their sup­port for the strike.

“Specif­i­cally, we dis­cour­age and op­pose any re­tal­ia­tory ac­tions the univer­sity or sys­tem of­fice may take against those fac­ulty and grad­u­ate stu­dent teach­ing as­sis­tants who de­cide to par­tic­i­pate in this ac­tion,” the state­ment said.

If the Board of Gov­er­nors ap­proves the plan, it says, the fac­ulty said they will not teach the first week of spring se­mes­ter classes. In­stead, they will or­ga­nize ses­sions across the cam­pus to lis­ten to stu­dents and “de­velop strate­gies to help UNC live up to its found­ing prin­ci­ples of ‘light and lib­erty.’”

Hun­dreds of fac­ulty mem­bers, in­clud­ing UNC Chan­cel­lor Emer­i­tus James Moeser, have signed state­ments sup­port­ing Silent Sam’s re­moval from cam­pus. Mul­ti­ple stu­dent groups, in­clud­ing UNC Black Congress and the Cam­pus Y, also have voiced their sup­port.

TRAVIS LONG [email protected]­sob­[email protected]­sob­ser

UNC-CH Chan­cel­lor Carol Folt, right, con­fers with Vice Chan­cel­lor for Pub­lic Af­fairs Clay­ton Somers on Mon­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.