To Whom It May Concern,
The Senate of the Undergraduate Student Government of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill writes to express their profound disappointment in the proposed plan to re-erect Silent Sam.
On September 6, 2017, the Senate passed a Resolution of Support to Remove Silent Sam. In this Resolution, the Senate emphasized that the University should make clear that it does not glorify the University’s violent past, and that it should follow peer institutions in removing Confederate memorials from public spaces on campus. However, with the recent announcement that the University plans to build a new 5.3 million dollar home with an annual operating cost of $800,000 for Silent Sam, UNC has made it clear that the university is interested in maintaining its legacy of white supremacy and the oppression of black and brown people. In addition, the University needs to consider campaigns such as “Carolina for All Kind” and what this statue means to the people of color on campus. For a campaign that is to be centered on diversity and inclusion, this plan for Silent Sam is counterproductive to the objective of the Carolina for All Kind campaign.
The Senate questions UNC’s commitment to its students as it has in under two months decided to build a museum to white supremacy, while various minority groups on campus have been advocating for a home for decades. This “solution” is reckless and creates a more dangerous campus that welcomes hate. In addition to ignoring the opinion of the undergraduate student body, this plan fails to identify appropriate funding sources associated with erection and maintenance of the building. Recently, the Board of Trustees, in conjunction with the Tuition and Fee Advisory Taskforce (TFAT), chose to raise student fees by $65.39 starting in Fall 2019 to address deferred maintenance of campus buildings without presentation to the Student Fee Advisory Committee (SFAC) or the Student Fee Advisory Subcommittee (SFAS). This completely undermines the notion of student self-governance.
According to an article published by The Daily Tar Heel on November 29, 2018, this large increase in student fees is meant to offset the funds that we cannot rely on the state to consistently provide. If the University does not have sufficient funds to address desperately needed maintenance of buildings (including safety violations and updates associated with accessibility for all peoples), the University certainly does not have the funds to establish or maintain any new, extraneous buildings. We are troubled by the fact that TFAT and the Board of Trustees feel they are allowed to bypass initial committees which oversee student fees. At some point, whether directly or indirectly, it is clear that additional student fees will be used to finance Silent Sam’s new home and this will likely happen without student consent.
The Senate of the Undergraduate Student Government of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill formally opposes the proposed plan and instead advocates for a plan where student voices, student organizers, faculty and staff — those at the heart of this campus and issue — have a say in their University and the future of it. The Senate vehemently opposes hate, racism, violence, and the silencing of students and as such will not stand idle as UNC celebrates the legacy of white supremacy and blatantly ignores the safety and wellbeing of its students.
Undergraduate Student Government
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Speaker of the Senate
Read the full statement here: Statement On Silent Sam