Faculty Executive Committee discuss Silent Sam solutions
Correction: An original version of this story incorrectly stated that Cary Levine thought it was an "abomination" that a statement from Chancellor Folt's asked students to not attend last Tuesday's protest instead of "telling counter-protesters to stay home." The article was updated to clarify that Levine thinks Folt shouldn't tell any people to not attend.
Silent Sam dominated the conversation at the Faculty Executive Committee Meeting Monday afternoon, with some members calling on Chancellor Carol Folt to make a stronger statement and condemn the University’s controversial past.
Folt said she is the first chancellor to publicly call for Silent Sam to be taken down for safety reasons. She also said she has an obligation to refrain from biased and political speech that could shut down public discourse on the subject.
“I do think right now it’s a public safety issue, and I feel like I am saying that in a very clear way,” Folt said. “I think that I can make a real statement there, and quite frankly I don’t think that we have had the conversation as a university about the value of historical monuments.”
Folt said many people in the University community believe the power to remove the statue is entirely in her hands, but she said the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees play a significant role in the decision-making process.
UNC School of Law professor Eric Muller, directly addressed Chancellor Folt and said he wants her to condemn the hate the statue represents.
Folt said that in the next few weeks, the University will be releasing a frequently asked questions document that will have answers to many of the commonly asked questions about Silent Sam. She said she hopes this will help to clear up misconceptions about her role in the process of removing the statue.
The chancellor also spoke about the Silent Sam protest that took place last week. She acknowledged the criticism she faced for not showing up at the protest and said that law enforcement advisers told her not to attend because she could easily get hurt. She also said they told her that her presence would have made it harder for police to do their jobs.
Cary Levine, professor in the art and art history department, said he thought the statement sent out prior to the protest was an abomination because Folt told students to stay home.
“The fact of the matter is that our children are much more in danger driving in a car from here to wherever they’re going on Saturday night than they were even in Charlottesville to be perfectly frank,” Levine said. “I think what a lot of colleagues I find are looking for is some sense of where the administration of this university stands on really the more important question: the moral, ethical issue."
The guardrails that were placed around the statue were also a topic of discussion in the meeting.
“They’re going to continue to have to put up guardrails around the statue,” Folt said. “If you don’t, people are going to climb the statue, fall down, get hurt.”
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