“This might be a record for the most people we have ever had at a committee meeting,” Gardner said before the committee began its session.
Before any presentations, Gardner and Duckett explained their process. Duckett said he spent hundreds of hours researching and consulting more than 200 students, experts and historians.
“Our strategy in this discussion is to build a comprehensive solution — the names of buildings are just part of that,” Gardner said.
While there is a dispute between activists and the Board about what specific actions Saunders was or wasn’t involved in, there was one key fact the two groups agree upon: Saunders was identified by the 1920 Board of Trustees as the head of the KKK.
This segued into presentations, which were led by The Real Silent Sam Coalition. Seniors Omololu Babatunde, Dylan Mott and Taylor Webber-Fields spoke on behalf of the group.
The three students’ speech covered topics ranging from historical microaggressions to current, Yik Yak-influenced culture while their supporters held up signs with sayings such as “Can you see us now?” and “BOT, value ALL of your students.”
Babatunde questioned the University’s use of students of color in brochures and on websites when the campus and its monuments oppress them.
“Diversity without justice is not enough,” she said. “If you are asking us to be your diversity, then we are demanding justice.”
The coalition was followed by UNC College Republicans’ chairman Frank Pray, who said he and his organization supported the removal of Saunders’ name from the building.
Law professor Eric Muller presented another idea to the Board: Instead of renaming Saunders, he proposed turning the building into a site where students could learn about the history of the state and its flagship University.
“Carolina was built not just on the brilliance of a William Friday but the ugliness of a William Saunders,” he said.