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Silent Sam "difficult" for University, says Folt


UNC Chancellor Carol Folt speaks at a Feb. 13 Undergraduate Senate meeting.

Chancellor Carol Folt addressed changes in the University over the past year in her annual State of University address at the Undergraduate Senate meeting Tuesday.

“You’re not living in the last century,” Folt said.  “You have new interests, new areas and when (the new curricula are) launched it’s going to be exciting.”

Folt spoke on divisive issues that have come up on campus this semester. She said the administration is working on a policy on sexual assault that allows students to both come forward to report harassment and be treated fairly.

Folt also stressed her concern about Silent Sam. She agrees that the statue has been divisive on campus and causes fear in some students. She said the School of Government is analyzing what a 2015 state law that prohibits movement of monuments allows the University to do.

"I think it's very difficult for our University for (Silent Sam) to be sitting there, for something that fosters not discourse but real fear," Folt said. "It's in the hands of the historic commission."

Senators questioned the controversial free speech policy, which stated students could be expelled if they hindered free speech. Folt said she supports student protests and said, while UNC students are respectful when they protest, she is concerned with potential violence.

“I would much rather have me deal with (student protests) than be told how to deal with it,” Folt said. "There is a lot of debate over who gets to decide what the punishments are.”

Folt said her goals for the year included revamping the global programs, with the intention of eventually having every student participate in an international experience. She also stressed the Campaign for Carolina, which aims to raise $4.25 billion, and said over $300 million has been raised for student aid and scholarships.

“Sometimes I’m pretty close to tears when (donors) tell me their stories of why they want to give,” Folt said.

She also addressed the accomplishments at UNC over the past year throughout different departments. In the sciences, research exceeded $1 billion for the first time, ranking sixth overall among public universities. In the arts, three pieces of public art will be loaned for at least two years, which Folt said would be announced soon.

“Where most Universities are shutting down the arts, we are moving full speed toward them,” Folt said.

Speaker of the Undergraduate Senate Katharine Shriver said Folt addressed a wide range of topics that were relevant to the campus.

“The best part was that she engaged with us on how the Student Senate can become better,” Shriver said.

The Undergraduate Senate meeting followed the State of University address. 

The Senate passed a concurrent resolution in support of a biotechnology minor, which is offered at North Carolina State University. District One Senator Wil Wiener said by combining courses in biology, business and communications, the minor will give biology majors the opportunity to pursue futures outside of research and medical school.

“Biotechnology is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, especially in the Research Triangle Park,” Wiener said.

Student Body President Elizabeth Adkins vetoed a bill to raise the stipend for the Speaker of the Undergraduate Senate. Although she agrees that the Speaker should receive a stipend, she said there needs to be a complete audit of the funding process before passing an extra stipend into law.

The vote to override the veto, which needed two-thirds of the Senate to vote in favor, failed.

“We will be willing to approve, but we should be thorough through all positions and stipends we’re considering,” Adkins said.


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