Just before Thanksgiving, while much of the Carolina community was away from campus, news broke that UNC had agreed to pay the Sons of Confederate Veterans a $2.5 million settlement to ensure Silent Sam would never return to the University’s campus.
The statue was placed in the hands of the SCV, while the University agreed to fund a $2.5 million trust to ensure the “care and preservation” of the monument, according to a statement. The group was paid an additional $74,999 to “limit” flagging on campus.
We can’t help but speculate that the timing of this announcement was not a coincidence. UNC is notorious for dropping bombshells quietly and at inopportune moments, perhaps hoping that we will be too busy to notice.
But we were paying attention. We always are.
In the weeks following the announcement, more information has come forward about the settlement and the context in which it was made, thanks in large part to the unwavering dedication of student journalists at The Daily Tar Heel.
This settlement was the result of closed negotiations between UNC System leadership, the BOG and the SCV.
Not only is this shamefully opaque, it’s illegal, which is why The Daily Tar Heel filed a lawsuit against the UNC System and the BOG for violating the Open Meetings Act.
It’s both shocking and unsurprising that UNC continues to mishandle the Silent Sam situation so egregiously — even a year after the last remnants of the monument were finally removed by a lame duck chancellor. At the very least, we hoped the administration would learn from past mistakes, but it’s clear they haven’t, and we’re starting to doubt they ever will.
It’s hard to find the words to describe just how disgusted we are by the University’s decision. We all want Silent Sam gone from this campus forever — we always have — but this was not the answer. It’s yet another reminder of the University’s prolonged willingness to negotiate and align themselves with avowed white supremacists.