CHAPEL HILL – Given the many factors involved – safety, cost, emotions and the law – the UNC Board of Governors made a reasonable call last week to put off a decision about the Silent Sam Confederate monument at UNC Chapel Hill and work toward the right solution.1
“The goal here is nothing less than to get it right,” declared Board of Governors Chair Harry Smith.
No one was happy with the plan recommended by the UNC Chapel Hill Board of Trustees to move the controversial statue to a new $5.3 million history center on campus.2
The trustees and Chancellor Carol Folt openly acknowledged that their preference is to move the statue off-campus.3But they said they were bound by a 2015 state law that says “objects of remembrance” can only be moved to a similar site within the same jurisdiction.4
Smith cited safety concerns and cost as reasons to reject the trustees’ proposal, appoint a committee of the Board of Governors to work with campus officials and adopt a deadline of March 15 to recommend an alternate plan.5
Given that the 2019 NC General Assembly will convene next month, the March 15 deadline also provides time to explore whether state legislators can – and will – change or allow an exception to the law.
3Ibid, p. 4. https://bot.unc.edu/files/2018/12/12_03_18-Report-Appendices.pdf, Appendix A-1, pp. 3-5.
4https://bot.unc.edu/files/2018/12/12_03_18-Report-Appendices.pdf, Appendix D, pp. 12-14.