The Faculty Executive Committee held a meeting Monday where major topics of discussion included updates on the pop-up forums for Silent Sam relocation, as well as the upcoming University Day. Here are the two main takeaways:
Silent Sam forums outcome
A number of pop-up Silent Sam relocation/replacement idea forums were held around campus over the past two weeks. These forums gave students the opportunity to brainstorm ideas with faculty members for what should happen with Silent Sam pending the Nov. 15 deadline.
A few Faculty Executive Committee members shared some highlights from the forums and student suggestions.
“We had some interesting ideas,” said Faculty Executive Committee Chairperson of Faculty Leslie Parise. “One was to donate it to the Smithsonian (Institution), which I thought was a good one.”
Among other ideas mentioned was melting the statue down to “turn it into coins” and for faculty to then hand the coins out to students. UNC Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert Blouin said the best hope is for UNC is to move forward from Silent Sam by focusing on the core academic values of the University.
“We have to move beyond this," Blouin said. "It’s not sustainable, and it’s defining us to the outside world now. I’m hoping that we can use our intellect to come up with some really clever, thoughtful, sensitive solutions such that the majority of people that have been affected will be satisfied.”
Committee member Cary Levine brought the deeper cultural ramifications of the removal or replacement of Silent Sam to the table. He said the satisfaction the administration is searching for will most likely not occur.
“The statue is a statue, but it’s part of a much bigger situation, a cultural situation, that won’t just go away when the statue goes away,” Levine said. “Imagine being the victims of oppression. For them it’s not just about the statue; it's about whole centuries of problems that all institutions need to address.”
University Day is on Friday, Oct. 12, and will mark the 225th year since the University's opening. Many events will take place on this day: a formal ceremony, the lighting of the Bell Tower and a performance by the UNC Symphony Orchestra. Blouin said University Day is an important time for reflection and to think back on the history of the campus.
Chancellor Carol Folt will make remarks at the Oct. 12 Faculty Council meeting regarding the status of the Silent Sam relocation or replacement. At this meeting, a movement for an amendment by the Faculty Executive Committee will be proposed detailing the relocation of Silent Sam to a location that is not at the front of campus.
Part of the amendment states: “Returning the statue to the university’s 'front door' would reaffirm the values of white supremacy that motivated its original installation. Moreover, to do so would undermine the moral and physical security of all members of our community.”
The council will vote on this amendment along with one brought forth by professor Frank Baumgartner on behalf of the UNC Black faculty, which calls for “the permanent removal of the statue and its base from the UNC campus.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.