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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Faculty Council supports civil rights center, removal of Silent Sam

Leslie Parise presides over her first Faculty Council meeting as chair.

In its first meeting of the 2017-18 academic year, Faculty Council jumped into the issues of the day with a resolution on the Board of Governors’ recension of litigation rights for the Center for Civil Rights and a resolution on the removal of the Confederate Monument (Silent Sam) from McCorkle Place.

Since the Board of Governors was to decide the issue the morning of Sept. 8 and the council didn’t meet until 3 p.m., the Faculty Executive Committee had earlier passed a resolution in support of the Center for Civil Rights on the council’s behalf, explained Leslie Parise in her first meeting as faculty chair. The system-wide Faculty Assembly presented the resolution to the Board of Governors, but the board voted to end the center’s traditional role as a legal advocate for poor and minority citizens of the state.

In a statement, Chancellor Carol L. Folt expressed her disappointment in the Board of Governors’ vote and her continued support for the center. “We now must determine a path forward for the Center and reconfirm our commitment to educating the next generation of civil rights lawyers and providing assistance to the poor and disadvantaged in North Carolina,” Folt said. “I will work with other University leaders, stakeholders and the school of law to explore all options and develop a course of action that allows us to continue this vitally important work while adhering to the new policy adopted by the Board of Governors today.”

Later in the meeting, council members overwhelmingly approved a resolution requesting the removal of the Confederate Monument from campus. The monument has been a source of protest over the years, including this academic year.

Both Folt and UNC system President Margaret Spellings have sought permission to lawfully remove the statue, but have been prevented by a state law passed two years ago that prohibits such removals from public property.

While in support of the statue’s removal, political science professor Steve Leonard, a former Faculty Assembly delegate, insisted the resolution was “a one-off solution” to a persistent problem. “The problem here is the legislation,” he said. “The problem is the law itself.”