Students from the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media are trying to transform the image of McCorkle Place through the launch of Envision Carolina — a new, six-week-long campaign that kicked off on Nov. 5.
J.P. Rickabaugh, a senior studying interactive multimedia, is the leader of the campaign. They said it began as an initiative through Gary Kayye’s course which focuses on new media technology and its impact on advertising, marketing and public relations.
“Basically, the big project for the class is something that the professor likes to call ‘The New Media Wars’ in which each section of the class runs a campaign," Rickabaugh said. "They run it concurrently with each other and basically try to get the biggest campaign.”
Rickabaugh and their group chose ‘replace Silent Sam’ as their topic for the project. They have since formed a campaign inspired by this prompt, which includes advocating for an art installation in McCorkle Place.
“We’ve sort of evolved it into this idea of creating an inclusive space within McCorkle Place that accurately represents all of the actions that students and members of the community have taken over the years,” said Frances Crisler, a senior studying strategic communication who manages communications and public relations for the campaign.
Rickabaugh said the campaign's proposal is a series of four archways that would each represent a century — namely the 1700s, 1800s, 1900s and 2000s.
“There'd be depictions, either carvings or banners hung, that depict pieces of history from that time,” Rickabaugh said.
They said that the arch for the 2000s would include banners that could be rotated out to highlight specific stories.
"We do want to depict some of the concrete historical moments, like potentially the toppling of the statue," Rickabaugh said. "But we also want to focus on the achievements of students here and letting them tell their stories.”
Crisler said that the team is hoping to depict factual moments in history through the arches.
“We didn't want to erase anything that happened, but we also didn't want to glorify it in any way," Crisler said.
She said that the arches would not only embody the past and the present, but also the future.
“I think that including all narratives, which is basically the idea for the arches, is to have everything represented by them and not just one person,” Mackenzie Cafferty, a senior studying political science and public relations and social media leader on the campaign, said.
Cafferty said that she wants the arches to display importance and necessity, but not negativity.
“I think, off the bat, since it's such a hot topic, there's so much ability for it to go into a negative space, and we don't want it to be a negative space,” she said.
Rickabaugh said that the next step for the campaign is to either file a petition or, more likely, draft a formal letter to the University. They said that the letter would be posted on social media where individuals could add their signatures in support of the art installment.
“We’re cultivating a space where UNC students are represented, so while we are replacing Silent Sam, it doesn't have to be where Silent Sam was, it just needs to be on McCorkle Place and the entrance to the University,” Cafferty said.
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