The Editorial Board understands it is nearly impossible to move the monument off campus due to current laws placed by the General Assembly. Moving the monument from the forefront of campus to a single-purpose education building to contextualize the statue's history puts it, once again, in a place of privilege. There is no need to spend money and build high-tech museum exhibits revolving around a racist statue. A presentation of the original dedication speech is enough.
The Board can think of many instances where $5.3 million can be used instead. The Student Union needs remodeling and additions. Our students are in need of greater mental health resources and accessibility. Several buildings on our campus are inaccessible to disabled students. Graduate students are paid wages that are barely sustainable.
In the ten-page report that our Board of Trustees submitted to the Board of Governors, the word “student” appears only five times. Once dedicating our allegiance to commemorating Confederate soldiers, and once used to describe the site that will be used to build the museum. The lack of current student participation only builds on the mounting rage against this monument, and it will not improve until the public opinion of the students is taken into account.
Administration will spend over $5 million, plus annual operating costs, to build this shrine for Silent Sam. For years, the Latinx organizations at UNC have been advocating for a space to meet and coordinate events. The consistent message from administration is that there is nowhere to go. Yet in two months the administration found the money to construct an unnecessary museum. It seems UNC is more willing to spend money on a racist relic of the past than students who attend this school.
Once again, the administration has made it clear that minority students are merely props, to be used and exploited when it is convenient for them.
The statue will be placed in South Campus, right off Manning Drive. South Campus is almost exclusively utilized as residences for undergraduates. Ram Village will house eight Black fraternities and sororities in fall 2019. Black students will be living adjacent to a monument that represents white supremacy.
This decision was not made with the student’s best interests in mind. History will not look favorably on “the people’s University,” if the administration continues to advocate for wealthy donors instead of what is right for the University’s progress. If the goal of the chancellor and Board of Trustees is to treat students as consumable products rather than as the backbone of this institution, then they have succeeded. However, if their goal is to continue to espouse the values of “For All Kind,” then the administration needs to look deep within itself and truly reflect on who it wants to serve.