We, the undersigned, speaking as individual graduate workers in the Department of Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, declare our unwavering support for Maya Little and her nonviolent act of civil disobedience. We condemn Chancellor Folt and her administration’s willful inaction in the face of ongoing, violent and racist threats against Maya.
In failing to protect students, workers, and faculty of color, the University under the direction of Chancellor Folt has fallen short in one of its most basic tasks. When institutions cannot be counted on to defend those lives who give it life, individual students and workers take on the responsibility of challenging the institution’s complicity in structures of oppression. Whether it sides with justice or power, the University’s response will not be forgotten.
It is our view that universities exist to enable the pursuit of new ideas, such that today’s assumptions do not become tomorrow’s dogmas. We reiterate the conclusion of our Departmental statement on Silent Sam:
The presence of a confederate monument on our campus is contrary to the values, expectations, and practices that we have worked hard to implement to dismantle the vestiges of that history. If we are to be true to the people of this state, as an educational system “dedicated to the service of North Carolina and its people” then we have a moral obligation to remove this symbol of violent oppression from our midst, and continue the work of dismantling systemic racism.
We join our friends and colleagues in the Department of History by making the following demands:
- We demand that Chancellor Folt and her administration remove Silent Sam from its current location, given that their legal right to do so is unambiguous
- We demand that the administration not take punitive action, legal or otherwise, against Maya for her act of nonviolent civil disobedience
- We demand that UNC Board of Trustees strike down the 16 year moratorium on renaming campus buildings
In our collective hope for a “Carolina for All,” we ask Chancellor Folt and her administration to take seriously the state motto of North Carolina: to be, rather than to seem. Until such a time as UNC lives the ideals it ascribes to itself, we will join our fellow graduate workers across departments in recognizing and condemning the personal and institutional actors that perpetuate white supremacy on our campus.
Rose Hartfield Wilson
Marie Alisa Garlock
Emily Brennan Moran