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Friday June 2nd

UNC System Board of Governors passes resolution for Silent Sam

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Chancellor Carol Folt and the UNC Board of Trustees members must formulate a plan for Silent Sam’s future by Nov. 15, according to a resolution passed by the UNC Board of Governors during a special session Tuesday.

The resolution, coming a little over a week since the forced toppling of Silent Sam by protesters at UNC, orders the BOT to develop and present a plan to the BOG for the Confederate monument’s “disposition and preservation” by the November deadline.

According to the resolution, the BOG expects a course of action that “protects public safety, preserves the monument and its history, and allows the University to focus on its core mission.” 

The emergency meeting went into closed session for nearly two hours before the BOG adopted the resolution. Only one member, Joe Knott, was physically present at the meeting, with the other members present via phone and Skype.

Before the vote took place, BOG chairperson Harry L. Smith, Jr. requested the members’ backing of the resolution to give UNC plenty of time to create a solution.

“I ask for the membership’s support in allowing UNC-Chapel Hill the proper time to allow them to bring us a recommendation that they feel like is in the best interest of their campus,” Smith said via telephone. “I could tell you I have tremendous faith in the trustees and leadership to do that.” 

The only BOG member to vote against the resolution was Thomas Goolsby, who said the November deadline was too far away. He also referred to the Board’s support of a stronger monument protection law but did not go into further details.

“I appreciate the Board of Governors’ commitment to a greater monument protection act, but I cannot support the motion as written,” Goolsby said. “I believe the time frame is far too long, especially in light of the violence, the ongoing threats, and the continuing danger on our college campuses.” 

Goolsby tweeted Aug. 23 that Silent Sam would be reinstalled within 90 days after the toppling, referring to North Carolina General Statute 100-2.1(b), which addresses monument protection. Interpretations of the law have varied, and the BOG did not release a statement confirming Goolsby’s tweet. 

After the special meeting, the BOG released a statement announcing it will bring in an external firm to conduct an assessment into UNC’s preparation for and response to the Aug. 20 protest. BOG members Phil Byers and Bob Rucho will oversee the review. 

“Given the urgency of this matter, the review will be conducted on an expedited basis,” said the BOG statement. 

The statement also announced an upcoming review into UNC’s enforcement of the law and its policies on freedom of speech. 

“Therefore, to ensure that UNC institutions provide safe and secure campuses and uphold the principles of free speech and expression, the Board will examine in the coming months ways to improve and better enforce codes of conduct, policies on freedom of expression, and procedures and approaches to ensure UNC institutions provide safe and secure,” the statement said.

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