Di Phi member Michael Johnston argued there is value in remembering history, even one filled with atrocities, because it can lead to discussion.
“We have dialogue. We have progress,” he said. “Taking it down is counterproductive.”
He said this monument is stimulating discussion across the University. By contextualizing Silent Sam with a plaque, for example, Johnston argued that people would have another reason to examine the issue and thus promote further discussion.
“Instead of viewing Silent Sam as a racist monument, we should view it as a call to action,” he said.
He also emphasized the University’s need to acknowledge and learn from its history to avoid repeating past mistakes.
“We can’t just erase history because it is inconvenient,” Johnston said.
Senior Di Phi member Isaac Warshauer disagreed with the assertion that contextualization was a positive solution. He said a plaque explaining Silent Sam’s history would be the monument’s fourth plaque and one that most viewers would not pay attention to.
He further argued the monument should be taken down because it is the propaganda of the past.
“Propaganda is a tool that has the power to change people’s minds, and we don’t need more white supremacists in this world,” he said. “Silent Sam is inherently dangerous.”
He said although most people are not visible white supremacists, there are still people with racist views, and Silent Sam reinforces those views, in part due to its prominence on campus.
Freshman Di Phi member Jeremy Howell argued the greater danger was forgetting history.
“Knowing the people of the past is essential to living in the present.”