After announcing her resignation and authorizing the removal of Silent Sam’s base and plaques on Monday, Chancellor Folt said in a media conference call on Tuesday that she made the two decisions separately.
“This really was a decision I was making about my next step and the proper timing of that for the University, and when I think about the momentum and what we’ve accomplished, we’re in great shape to hire the next chancellor, and so that was really the focus of my decision,” Folt said.
Folt said while timing brought the Silent Sam issue and her resignation together, it was not her reason for resigning. Folt also responded to the criticism some make that she only decided to remove the base and plaques after exhausting her other options.
“There’s a significant difference between what action I’ve been able to take recently and what I’ve been trying to take all along,” she said. “You’ll probably remember that from the very start, more than a year ago, I started saying that for public safety, I would remove the statue. That’s been my position all along.”
Folt said the base and tablets will be preserved until their future is decided. The reasoning for removing them, she said, was due to the safety risk they posed.
“The presence of the remaining parts of the monument on campus posed a continuing threat to both the personal safety and well-being of our community and to our ability to provide a stable, productive educational environment,” she said. “We all know that no one learns at their best when they feel unsafe.”
Folt’s statement referenced the Campaign for Carolina and the success of the Blueprint for Next as signs of the University’s momentum and reasons why she feels comfortable passing on the leadership of the University.
Though Folt said she recognizes that not everyone has agreed with her decisions regarding Silent Sam, she said she is confident her latest decision is the right one for UNC.
“With the monument, I have not wanted my job status to be a part of my decision-making about the monument, and it has not been,” she said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.