UNC not act on the image of the Southern soldier target of repeated vandalism

Students rallying for the removal of a statue of a Southern soldier nicknamed Silent Sam, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in August 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Drake, File)

The Board of directors of the University of North Carolina will not take up the question of what to do with a Confederate statue at the public university, the flagship of the campus.

“Silent Sam,” a bronze and marble statue erected in 1913, is the focus of the student demonstrations and sit-ins in the last few years with vandalism of blood and red ink, cost the UNC Chapel Hill campus $390,000 in security costs alone for the last year.

The new UNC president, Harry Smith, announced Friday that neither UNC Chapel Hill, nor the UNC-system has the legal authority to move from the image in question. He pulled out a 2015 state of the law that bars moving historic monuments, except in a few cases, despite the increasing pressure of students, teachers and alumni, The News & Observer reported.

Activists who want to remove the monument say repeated vandalism is the reason for the move of the under the law, but Smith said that the board will do nothing without the North Carolina Historical Commission of guidance.

“I would expect that we will have a discussion in the board of directors with the chairman, and the progress of the process,” Smith said after the meeting of the board. “At the end of the day, what do I want to be sure of is that we do not ignore it, so that we are just not having public comment sessions, and then we switch on. We all have our views and opinions. I believe that if we are in a healthy process, then we will always reach the right decision.”

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

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