The recent removal of the Silent Sam base and plaque from UNC’s campus has sparked new discussions and protests surrounding the monument and its history, extending conversations to potential new students and their families.
Some of the first glimpses of UNC’s campus for prospective students may occur during campus tours, and many UNC tour guides, known as Admissions Ambassadors, are tasked with the role of tackling questions and concerns surrounding Silent Sam by prospective parents and students.
“The biggest question is definitely safety,” sophomore Admissions Ambassador Sosa Evbuomwan said. “A lot of times we get questions about whether or not their student will be safe on campus, and whether or not we feel safe on campus as well.”
Evbuomwan has been giving tours since her first year at UNC and said student tour guides receive extensive training for giving experience-based tours.
“We’re trained for extenuating circumstances on campus. Whenever something comes up, we usually will have a meeting to discuss how to handle the situation should questions arise from parents or students,” Evbuomwan said. “If (parents) want our opinion, usually it’s given outside of the tour.”
Another sophomore Admissions Ambassador Excellence Perry said the training encourages student admission ambassadors to handle politically charged issues professionally without compromising their own beliefs.
“They give us advice and questions about how we should respond in a way that’s not only preserving our authenticity and honesty but also being true to acknowledging the things that we do here on campus,” Perry said. “They never say to compromise our integrity, but they always say to make sure that you mix your authenticity in a way that represents the University truthfully.”
Evbuomwan said tour guides are also trained to discuss the positive aspects of the situation surrounding Silent Sam, such as the freedom students have to voice their opinions.
“We usually will talk about how it allows students to have a voice on campus, which is the truth,” Evbuomwan said. “Also, how we feel about it in terms of what it means for students to be able to advocate on campus because some people like the fact that the University will sometimes take student opinions into consideration when handling matters like this.”
Perry said he has almost never received questions about Silent Sam, which he views as a testament to the state of the issue.
“You get a lot less questions about Silent Sam and the riots and politically charged things than people may think,” Perry said. “I think that Silent Sam is an issue that people talk about a lot more in inner circles, but they don’t want to talk about in outer environments.”
Perry also said the questions he generally gets center more around campus life than political issues like Silent Sam.
“I usually get asked more about what I do on campus, asked more about what this campus has to offer, the course load or my favorite things to do on campus,” Perry said.
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