The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Sunday, March 3, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Folt claims 70 percent of N.C. residents want Silent Sam back in McCorkle Place

Carol Folt
Chancellor Carol Folt during an executive committee meeting on Monday, Sept. 24.

Update 11:20 p.m.: At Thursday's Board of Trustee's meeting, Chancellor Carol Folt addressed her comments about the poll. 

"I definitely misspoke, and I have to say I certainly wish I hadn't. I see a lot of numbers and I said that incorrectly. But my real point of that wasn't really about the number," Folt said. "I was trying to say that we need to do the best plan possible because people have so many opinions about it, and it's our job is to try to really come up with a plan that's going to be healing for the community." 

On Monday, Sept. 24, the Faculty Executive Committee discussed the potential relocation of Silent Sam, keeping in mind the Nov. 15 deadline provided by the UNC System Board of Governors. Chancellor Carol Folt spoke extensively on discourse surrounding the statue’s future.

“70 percent of the people in the state of North Carolina don’t just want (Silent Sam) on campus, they want it exactly back where it was,” Folt said. 

The discussion included the BOG's deadline, if legal relocation of Silent Sam is an option and how students and faculty can voice their opinions. 

UNC Media Relations said Folt was potentially referring to the Civitas Poll about the monument's toppling. 

"Today the Civitas Institute released a statewide poll in which 70 percent of likely voters disapprove of the toppling of Silent Sam," the press release said.  

Provost Bob Blouin (left) and Chancellor Carol Folt (right) discuss matters relating to the Confederate monument, Silent Sam, during an executive committee meeting on Monday.

The charge for Silent Sam relocation by the Board of Governors 

A resolution by the BOG was made on Aug.28 — after the forced removal of Silent Sam — asking Chancellor Carol Folt and the Board of Trustees “to provide a plan for a lawful and lasting path that protects public safety, preserves the monument and its history, and allows the University to focus on its core mission of education, research, economic stimulation, and creating the next generation of leaders.” 

Folt said strategic sessions will take place to conceptualize ideas for relocation using a productivity outline created by a UNC faculty member. This outline is known as the collaborative process and is a hierarchical list which will be used to go over goals, obstacles, principles, ideas and possible solutions for the problem. The Faculty Executive Committee is asking for student, faculty and administrative input on the plan. Folt said open dialogue is necessary to create a space for students and faculty to feel included in the decision.

“Some people who were saying, ‘I don’t even want to think about it anymore,’ are starting to say where they could see (Silent Sam),” Folt said. 

The Faculty Council plans to meet on Oct. 12 to discuss a formal solution to present to the BOG. Folt said a location on campus is much more likely to be accepted by the BOG than one off campus.

“I believe it’s going to have the best chance of success, this is just me speaking, if we have a rational solution on campus,” Folt said.

The law behind Silent Sam’s future location

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

“The (monument) law says the monument goes back on the pedestal. What we’ve been given is the opportunity to develop an alternative to that,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert Blouin. 

There was a lot of discussion about what is and is not allowed by law for the relocation of Silent Sam. UNC law school professor Eric Muller said the law behind the relocation is a little hazy. 

“The statute says (Silent Sam) needs to be returned to the jurisdiction of the place from which it was removed,” Muller said. “We don’t know (what that means). It could mean campus. UNC is not a jurisdiction, the jurisdiction would be Orange County. Can we be thinking in that direction (for solutions) or can we not be thinking in that direction?” 

Despite many laws and restrictions regarding the relocation of Silent Sam, the Faculty Executive Committee is looking to involve students in the decision-making process. The committee described possible pop-up town halls which would occur around campus and allow students to contribute ideas for Silent Sam's return or relocation. These pop-up town halls would occur in the coming weeks, and would be led by faculty members.