We, the StrikeDownSam Anti-Racist Coalition, are a group of students and faculty who came together in opposition to the Board of Trustees’ (BOT) “Recommendation for the Disposition and Preservation of the Confederate Monument” known as Silent Sam, released December 3, 2018. We have demonstrated our rejection of the Report by withholding final grades. The safety and welfare of students, faculty, and staff was not among the “highly pertinent aspects thoroughly considered” in the Report (page 3). Although we welcome the Board of Governors’ (BOG) rejection of the BOT’s Report, their decision does not guarantee a satisfactory long-term resolution. The Confederate monument must never return to campus in any shape or form nor a center to its history be erected. We further express here our right to freely assemble and to practice our freedom of speech on a matter of great public concern.
Two aspects of the original Report violate our collective sense of ethical and moral leadership:
- The lack of an accurate representation of the history of UNC. While the Report calls for a $5.3 million center “to teach the history of America’s first public university,” the words white supremacy, Jim Crow, slavery,and African American do not appear anywhere in the document (p. 5).
- The plans for further militarization of our campus. The Report stated that “the Safety Panel recommended that additional investments in support of the UNC Police will be needed to deal effectively with large, aggressive protest actions” (p. 8). This potential plan is unwarranted, dangerous, and unacceptable. It is clear from the language of the Report that such an action is designed to quell (and violently) “civil action.”
What the Report indicates is that the University is prepared to engage an already exhausted faculty and student body in another protracted debate about white supremacy and its legacy on this campus. This represents an extraction of our labor without compensation and with little regard for our right to pursue happiness as we go about our work on this campus. The graduate and faculty action to withhold the reporting of grades has been a rejection of such extraction. Given (1) the Report’s attempt to shroud our “history” in white supremacy and the Report’s lack of transparency around UNC community outrage and pain about that legacy and (2) the Report’s recommendation of a militarized police presence that would only endanger the lives of people of color on campus, we announced we would withhold our labor.
The BOG’s rejection of the Report extends the timeline for deliberation over the disposition of the Confederate monument, requiring that a revised proposal be submitted in March 2019. For the StrikeDownSam Anti-RacistCoalition, this new timeline necessitates a new strategy; we recently released all grades for the fall 2018 semester, but will be in a strong position to continue our action in spring 2019 if the BOG, BOT, or members of the University administration decide to place UNC students at risk.
In the coming semester, undergraduate and graduate students will work together with faculty to plan further actions and to continue exerting pressure on the University. We denounce the BOG resolution that aims to“prescribe minimum sanctions including suspension, termination, and expulsion for individuals who engage in unlawful activity that impacts public safety,”including “inciting riots, resisting arrest, participation in a riotous act, and other acts of violence.” It is a naked attempt to intimidate dissenting students who are routinely punished by police for peaceful assembly and protest. We will continue to work collectively until the newly constituted committee develops amore honest and humane plan for our collective future. We are unwavering in our demand for a safe learning environment and resolute in our fight to eradicate white supremacy from our campus and community.
We call on students, faculty, staff, and all members of our community to join us as we work for justice.
To stay up-to-date with the StrikeDownSam Anti-Racist Coalition or join our movement, please fill out this form with an unaffiliated email address.