Certainly, Folt deserves recognition for standing up for what is right against an aggressive Board of Governors. It’s a move that should be celebrated by all those in the University who wanted the statue down. But she had a safety net, specifically, a safety net worth $1.3 million in Los Angeles.
It reminds us of a conversation we had at a meeting soon after Folt announced her resignation. Great, a member said. Now the history books are going to say Folt took down Silent Sam with her own two hands.
We didn’t expect headlines would be saying that just two months later.
We don’t believe it was Silent Sam that got Folt hired at USC, but rather her leadership under the academic scandal, the first major UNC scandal Folt inherited. After admitting that UNC committed academic fraud to Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges, the school turned around and claimed the opposite to the NCAA, because the paper classes were available to non-athletes, too.
It saved our celebrated sports teams. But it certainly was not a clean, transparent and honest strategy.
We would encourage the USC community to remain optimistic about Folt. They need it. We certainly understand what it’s like to have your storied university engulf itself into controversy after controversy. It’s exhausting, and no institution of higher education deserves that. And perhaps Folt’s time at UNC taught her some valuable lessons, ones that will productively inform her tenure at USC for the students and faculty.
But it’s still important to hold her accountable. The Board has had major issues with her and her administration’s lack of transparency throughout the Silent Sam debacle. But, according to an article by The Chronicle, many at USC value transparency in a new president. In recent events, both the removal of Silent Sam and its pedestal occurred in the dead of night. Proposals for what to do with the monument were released during finals. As mentioned in Editor-in-Chief Rachel Jones’ column, public records requests from the DTH were answered when Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina, and the last day of class.
It’s this opaqueness that made the Board weary of Folt and her ability to preside over UNC with the best intentions both for its student body and student journalists. But Folt, along with her higher paycheck, will also not be dealing with state funding and a frustrating and petty Board of Governors, who stand for pretty much everything the students don’t.
Entering a school ripe in scandal and undercover dealings, it's understandable that USC values transparency in their office.
We hope she’ll deliver that for them.