A collective sigh of relief was heard across campus early Monday evening as students learned that the base of Silent Sam would finally be removed from campus. This unprecedented announcement provoked mental images of Chancellor Folt personally yanking down placards and dragging Sam’s podium behind her.
However, the UNC-system Board of Governors forcing Folt to resign earlier than she had planned was a harsh reminder of what can happen when leaders take progressive action against traditional institutions of power.
A leader falling on their sword, acting in accordance with constituents rather than obeying partisan norms, is a rare sight in any political arena. Folt chose to sacrifice her political authority among our conservative Board members for the benefit of our community. Though it was a long time coming, and not without some controversy along the way, we applaud her for her courage to ultimately do what’s right, and are disappointed by what followed.
The Board’s aggressive response to turn Folt’s resignation into a forced dismissal is perhaps the type of reaction that Republican senators fear during the current standoff over Trump’s similarly racist, divisive monument — the border wall.
The government shutdown over the proposed border wall is the longest in American history, an achievement for which Trump will undoubtedly laud himself in his presidential memoir. Meanwhile, 800,000 federal employees are unpaid, and real humanitarian crises are arising as many Americans fear for housing security and the depletion of funds for SNAP.