On the Nov. 15 Board of Trustees meeting, students, faculty, staff and community members crowded into the Chancellor’s Ballroom at the Carolina Inn. A charged silence fell over the room as the Board of Trustees Chair Haywood Cochrane explained the speaking guidelines and called up the first speaker.
Over the next few hours, almost 30 speakers passionately expressed their views on Silent Sam. Each speaker was given three minutes to talk. The emotions of the crowd seemed to swell with each plea for the monument to be taken down, while outwardly we all stayed as composed as the quaint decor of the room seemed to demand.
Each speaker addressed a different facet of the history and current destructiveness of the statue. The director of CAPS declared our campus was in the middle of a mental health crisis, students spoke with outrage and hurt about the racist significance of the statue and distinguished faculty reminded us all that this struggle is not new.
The gravity of the situation and the obviousness of the solution seemed to sink into the plush chair cushions with each speaker. The hurried applause bounced off the ornate chandeliers as the next speaker took their place at the podium. All but three of the 30 speakers declared Silent Sam an injustice.
The Editorial Board applauds Chancellor Folt for urging the Board of Trustees to take the time to listen without interruption. But providing a dignified physical space to hear the campus’s beliefs means nothing if the Board of Trustees then chooses to ignore the voices they have now undeniably heard.