Carol Folt has finally reclaimed the moral high ground – but at the cost of her job. After six years as chancellor, Folt announced that she will be resigning in May 2019. And for that, the Editorial Board, for the first time this academic year, commends her.
Resignation seemed like the only outcome to a situation where compromise only exacerbated tensions on campus. Siding with students and faculty would alienate the conservative General Assembly. Siding with these authorities would, frankly, be racist and uphold white supremacy. Taking middle ground, the path Folt naively chose, angered everyone and displayed a clear lack of leadership in a University that so desperately needed it.
In her official resignation statement, Folt said she authorized the removal of Silent Sam’s pedestal from McCorkle Place. It’s a move that was a long time coming. For the Editorial Board, it represents the struggles the anti-Silent Sam activists have faced against institutions such as the administration, law enforcement and even this very paper, coming to a culmination. The Chapel Hill community, finally moving toward the “new and the next,” as Folt stated in her statement of resignation, will be indebted to these activists for generations to come. And the Editorial Board would like to thank them.
The Board hopes that this small but significant victory is evidence of Folt’s greater commitment to finally ridding our campus of the platform it has given to racism and white supremacy for so many years.
Although Folt has brought many improvements to the University, including Campaign for Carolina, record-breaking research expenditures and the largest first-year class in the University’s history, her tenure has been overshadowed by her passivity toward Silent Sam and a lack of transparency to the media and student body. She disregarded the concerns of students and faculty of color as she placed them on the front covers of diversity brochures. Seemingly every decision about Silent Sam, including the proposed $5.3 million shrine on South Campus, was made without considering the students who are the foundation of this University.