On the heels of a decision to indefinitely postpone the unveiling of a Silent Sam plan, the Board of Governors met this week, keeping the issue of the confederate monument entirely off the docket.
Chairperson Harry Smith, however, did acknowledge after the meeting that his thinking on the issue has evolved in the time since the BOG took responsibility for the statue away from UNC. Currently, five members of the BOG are working on the issue, in conjunction with UNC and its Board of Trustees, ever since the original plan of creating a freestanding building to house the statue was shot down in December.
Smith called his original wish — an immediate resurrection of the statue — “quick and uneducated,” and now contends he personally believes placing Silent Sam back on McCorkle place is “not the right path.”
“It would’ve been easy to rush, make the decision and move on, but I don’t think that’s the right thing to do,” Smith said. “I don’t think there’s a new deadline.”
In the public comments section of the meeting, students and activists gave prepared remarks in which they expressed concern regarding police presence on campus and the role of public safety.
“I would urge you to take action to bring these forces under control, beginning with a minimum of disarmament or force reductions,” said Calvin Deutschbein, a fourth year doctoral student of computer science, “and moving toward the model common at so many other institutes of learning of having no police force at all.”
In the full board meeting, the attitude toward campus police was starkly different than that expressed by the visiting public. A trustee from UNC-Charlotte made remarks in the first meeting of the board since the shooting at their school; afterward Smith recommended increasing the size of campus police and the public safety team.
“I really want to take a chance to thank our police departments around the system and all they do,” he said.
Although support for police was strong in the halls of the UNC System, activist Lindsay Ayling said that language from the BOG and administration has emboldened and justified threats she and others receive from pro-monument groups.