UNC Board of Governors ‘cannot support’ $5.3M plan to house Silent Sam statue on UNC campus


The base of where the “Silent Sam” statue once stood. (Allison Smith/WGHP)

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The UNC Board of Governors said it “cannot support” the plan put forth by the UNC Board of Trustees to spend $5.3 million to house the now-toppled Confederate monument known as Silent Sam.

WTVD reported that the Board of Governors met in closed session for more than three hours Friday, debating what to do with the statue.

Board Chairman Harry Smith cited student safety and the large price tag as reasons the university system decided against supporting the plan. However, Smith did not elaborate on a potential alternative plan for the monument.

He did appoint several members of the board to come up with an alternative plan by Friday, March 15.

The Confederate monument was toppled in August and had stood front and center at UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus since 1913.

Protesters arrived outside the UNC System Office Center for School Leadership Development around 8:15 Friday morning.

They carried signs and chanted against white supremacy.

“Where it (Silent Sam) goes is really secondary to the fact that it has no place on campus,” Lucy Lewis, UNC alumnus and former employee, said. “This is a public university and it’s responsibility is to be a welcoming environment, a safe environment for all of our students, and we call on the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees to stand by that and get rid of the statue forever.”

The protesters said they disagreed with the Board of Trustees’ proposal to move Silent Sam out of public view and into a yet-to-be-built building on campus.

“When they talk about jurisdiction having to be the campus, it doesn’t have to be the campus,” Lewis explained. “It could be Orange County. It could be North Carolina. When they say we’re not going to put it in a museum they’re creating an educational center, but really it’s about a shrine. It’s a museum.”

One protester was arrested when they put up a tent over the protesters and refused to move the tent. The tent was protecting the protesters from the rain.

The protest wrapped up around 9 a.m., and some of the protesters said they planned to head to the jail to support their friend who was arrested.

On Dec. 3, UNC’s Board of Trustees unveiled a $5.3 million plan to build a history and education center on campus to house the monument.

Many students and faculty members are not happy with the Board of Trustees’ plan. More than 100 current and former student-athletes signed a petition calling for the permanent removal of Silent Sam.

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