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Undergraduate Senate discusses plans for Silent Sam resolution

Undergraduate Senate on Silent Sam

Sosa Evbuomwan spoke at an Undergraduate Senate committee meeting to discuss the position of Undergraduates statement on Silent Sam on Monday Aug. 27 in the Frank Porter Graham Student Union.

The Undergraduate Senate’s Select Committee on Silent Sam held a hearing Monday to discuss what to include in its resolution to the statue’s removal by activists on Aug. 20.

After an hour of discussion, the committee decided several senators will draft separate resolutions, emphasizing the student body does not want Silent Sam reinstalled to its original pedestal.

Tanner Henson, a UNC junior and the committee's chairperson, began the hearing by reading comments from the public on Silent Sam.

Two of the three public comments were in favor of the statue's toppling. A third statement, attributed to a first-year student identified only as Brandon, said the statue should be put back, and people who feel oppressed or unwelcome by the statue should want the same.

“When the idea of a Holocaust museum came about, it was the Jewish people who wanted it to happen. They did not want to erase that part of their history. They wanted to remember it and mourn it and know that they came out of oppression to become a free religion," Brandon wrote. "In the same way, Christians are not trying to get rid of the cross because it is evidence of Roman oppression. It is a significant part of history and one that must be preserved for everyone. Erasing history does nothing of help to society. We must learn to embrace it, understand it and learn from it.”

In addition to differing views from the public, the senators on the committee disagreed on what to include in the resolution to get the necessary two-thirds of the Undergraduate Senate to approve it.  

Oliver Mitchell-Boyask, a senior on the committee, said the committee should draft two statements: one in support of the protestors' actions and one that does not mention it. 

“I believe that sometimes taking extralegal action is morally obligatory, or at least morally permissible, and that morality and law are not always attached to each other,” he said.

Henson said although he believes the statue should stay down, he disagrees with the approach the protesters took to remove it.

“I don’t think we should put forward statements that are conflicting because I think we run the risk of not getting two-thirds votes for either of them,” Henson said. “I think we need to put forward a unified view as a committee as best we can, and I’ll stand there and say ‘this is what we agree on. This is what we would like to put forward.’"

Christian Correa, a junior on the committee, said the resolution should point out that Silent Sam will inevitably come down permanently, and that the $390,000 used to protect it could be used for students instead.

“I think we should make a point to the General Assembly and the UNC Board of Governors about whether it’s worth it because frankly, the statue will come down eventually; it’s a matter of time,” Correa said. “It’s how much money and how much time they’re willing to spend on protecting a statue that is, at most, a symbol — or would they rather be using it to fund students, fund student endeavors?” 

Several senators on the committee volunteered to write sample resolutions with differing points. The statements will later be combined and should be introduced to the full body of the Senate next Tuesday. If approved, the resolution will likely be released next Wednesday.


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