UNC-Chapel Hill

Anonymous UNC faculty group G17 forces Folt to call for removal of Silent Sam

One way or another, that dude is history:

Updated at 10: 37 p.m: An anonymous group of 17 UNC faculty members announced on their Twitter account it received notice from the chancellor's office that Chancellor Carol Folt will ask Gov. Roy Cooper to petition the N.C. Historical Commission to relocate Silent Sam.

The tweet said the governor will be asked to immediately petition on the groups that recent events suggest the monument must be moved to be preserved. The group said it will stand down but will "re-engage if the chancellor fails to follow through on her promise."

Of course the right-wing nutters are howling at the moon, calling for an investigation to determine who these professors are and get them fired and/or arrested. But the truth is, the UNC administration has brought this on themselves by farting around and hoping the problem would magically solve itself. As far as hurting the reputation of the school, it's the statue and not the controversy that has done that. Silent Sam should have been removed a long time ago, but after Julian Carr's speech was widely published, in which he bragged about whipping a female slave until her dress was in bloody tatters, it should have been a no-brainer. G17 isn't a "splinter" movement emanating from just one school, it has members from across the campus:

UNC to white supremacist Richard Spencer: Nope

Kudos to Chancellor Folt for making the right decision:

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt has declined a request from the National Policy Institute to rent a space for white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus, citing safety concerns. “Our basis for this decision is the safety and security of the campus community—we are not willing to risk anyone’s safety in light of these known risks,” Folt said in a statement.

“I am deeply saddened and disturbed that the violent and virulent rhetoric being espoused by extremist groups has jeopardized the ability of campuses to promote robust dialogue and debate about important issues while ensuring public safety.”

What she said. It's long past time we stop allowing these racists to spew their hatred under the guise of pseudo-intellectual debate. Keep in mind, under the new GOP "Campus Free Speech" law just enacted, students who would have protested this bigoted nut-job would have faced punishment for that. Which is probably *exactly* why the National Policy Institute wanted to have him speak now, so they could force the UNC administration to carry out said punishments. This ain't over yet, folks. They'll pick another school in the UNC System before you can light that tiki torch, so keep your peepers open

Defending the UNC Center for Civil Rights

Trying to clip the wings of the legal eagles:

Ahead of a vote this week that she says would effectively close the UNC Law School’s Center of Civil Rights, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt has sent a letter requesting the UNC Board of Governors not adopt a proposed policy change. In a July 28 letter, Folt says the move by the BOG would lead to a closure of the center and harm the school’s reputation. The five page letter is Folt’s strongest statement yet on the fate of the center.

“. . . if the committee moves forward with the new proposed policy, we risk significant damage to the reputation of the University and the Law School, as well as the uncertainty as to whether we can create a new clinic for civil rights with no resources.”

Follow the link and read Carol Folt's letter, and once again hat-tip to Kirk Ross for his diligence. This answered a question that's been in the back of my mind: "Why don't Republicans just cut off the funding for the Center if they don't like it?" It's because there is no state funding, taxpayers aren't spending a dime for this critical service. So the GOP is forced to take other measures, which will not only undermine the important work being done, it goes against the wishes of the charitable donors who have supported the Center. If you want to know the "why" behind this move, look at some of the cases litigated:

NCGA funds new environmental "Center" at UNC-CH

And its objectivity is already in question:

With $7 million in potential startup funds and $6 million in funding over the next four years, the project represents one of the state’s largest recent investments in environmental science. Although it didn’t make headlines during the legislative session, the size of the investment and UNC-Chapel Hill’s new role in developing state natural resource and environmental policy have drawn a lot of interest.

Tedder, who worked on water quality programs at what is now the Department of Environmental Quality, said the center could prove to be a positive development as long as researchers are able to maintain their independence. “I hope they don’t have to work under something where there’s a controlled message,” he said.

This Center already has two strikes against it, as far as I'm concerned. First, it won't be under an academic umbrella, it will be part of the "business and finance" structure of the University. And God only knows what types of private-sector partnerships would be deemed "beneficial" under that rubric. Second, the early front-runner for leadership of this new entity is the Bergermeister's very own Jeffrey Warren:

The looming privatization of UNC's bookstore

Beware the education profiteers:

“They expect to be able to pay us significantly more than we receive from the store now,” Fajack said.

Follett also made promises about buying back books, stocking used books and implementing a cheaper textbook rental system. “We estimate that we could save your students several million dollars a year on course material,” the proposal said.

First of all, the primary function of that student bookstore should be to provide already overly-expensive textbooks to students at the cheapest price possible, to avoid compounding their growing student loan debt. What the University gets back (or kicked-back) is a secondary concern. And just a cursory bit of research (you know, like universities are supposed to do) brings into question both Follett's ability and desire to do either:

Documentary explores rape at UNC, other campuses

This is what happens when you sweep something this important under the rug:

“I don’t think that we’ve been trying to hide from the fact that the institution has had issues and that we have frankly been engaged for the past few years in tremendous efforts to improve things,” Crisp said. “My only hope is that ... it doesn’t get lost how hard people have been working and how much progress is being made on trying to make this place live up to everybody’s expectations for a safe and healthy and inclusive campus.”

Melinda Manning, a former UNC administrator who joined Clark, Pino and other students in the 2013 federal complaint, also was interviewed for the film. In the movie’s trailer, she charges that universities employed tactics to downplay the problem. Schools discouraged students from taking rape reports to the police to avoid embarrassing public records about assaults, she said.

You'll pardon me if I'm not as sympathetic to the University's position as Winston Crisp would prefer. When you go to great pains to conceal horrific behavior for so long, you're not in much of a moral position to request people pay attention to the good things you're doing. Those early cover-ups directly contributed to later sexual assaults, by concealing the danger from female students and giving predators the impression what they're doing is not that big a deal. It will take more than a little PR to get out from under that dark cloud; it will take actions that have verifiable results. Here's the trailer for the documentary:

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