There was shock, then backlash. Last week, officials at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced their plans for the infamous Confederate statue known as Silent Sam, and those plans hardly satisfied anyone.
On Friday, protesters converged outside of the Center for Leadership Development at Chapel Hill as, inside, the UNC system’s Board of Governors met to deliberate on the university’s plan to erect a $5.3 million building on campus to house the monument. The building would also serve as a university history center. Ahead of the meeting, some board members expressed reservations about the proposal. Was there not a building already on campus that could house Silent Sam without having to spend $5.3 million on a new facility? Others argued that moving the statue to any building, but especially the proposed history center—which has all the hallmarks of a museum—might be illegal due to a state law that says prominently displayed monuments can’t be moved to museums.
In the end, the Board of Governors decided to punt. Harry Smith, the chair of the board, announced that they would be denying the plan presented by UNC Chapel Hill’s chancellor, Carol Folt, last week. For reasons of public safety, Smith said, alongside the sheer cost of the recommendation, the board could not support the plan. The board charged five of its members to meet with Folt to review other options for the statue. The deadline for the new recommendations is March 15, 2019.