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UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor says goodbye with pizza and Carolina blue cupcakes

Students line up to take selfies and say goodbye to Carol Folt

A long line of students eager to say their goodbyes to Carol Folt, UNC-Chapel Hill's chancellor who is leaving at the end of the month, gave her hugs, took lots of selfies, and wrote her notes on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.
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A long line of students eager to say their goodbyes to Carol Folt, UNC-Chapel Hill's chancellor who is leaving at the end of the month, gave her hugs, took lots of selfies, and wrote her notes on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt posed in Carolina blue and handed out pizza and cupcakes Tuesday to the hundreds of students who lined up to take selfies with her.

Folt hosted a pizza party as a way to say goodbye before she leaves the university in the wake of her decision to remove the pedestal of the Silent Sam Confederate statue.

She had planned to remain through the spring semester, but the UNC Board of Governors told her to be gone by Jan. 31.

Many of the students who gathered Tuesday thanked Folt for taking action and removing all traces of Silent Sam from campus.

“There’s been a lot of talk about Silent Sam and next steps,” freshman Jada Gailliard said, “but I’m really happy with her decision. It makes me feel a lot safer on campus.”

Akash Mishra, a senior, said he came to the event to thank Folt for everything she’s done for UNC.

“It’s like that MLK quote that’s been floating around, ‘The time is always right to do what is right,’” Mishra said.

Junior Kate Forbidussi waited in line in the Carolina Union to get a photo with Folt, something she could then mark off her college bucket list. Forbidussi said the situation surrounding Folt’s departure was unfair.

“There was always going to be someone who’s unhappy,” she said.

Student Body Vice President Emily Blackburn watched over a banner where students left messages for the chancellor. Blackburn said she was sad to see Folt leave, but glad that so many students had turned up to say goodbye.

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UNC-Chapel Hill student Najla Ward-Conyers, a freshman from Charlotte, writes a note to Carol Folt in the student union on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Julia Wall jwall@newsobserver.com

Blackburn worked closely with Folt, meeting with her at least once a month through the Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor, and she said it was fun to see students walk away a little starstruck.

Other students hadn’t had the time to form an opinion of Folt.

Aale Espanta is in his first semester at UNC, and he just wanted a chance to meet Folt before she left. Espanta said his friends’ feelings about Folt are mixed, but he is optimistic that the changes taking place across campus will make the university better.

Other students, like Lindsey Ayling, went to the event to challenge Folt.

Ayling said she wanted to ask Folt to rescind non-trespassing orders against some of the protesters arrested during Silent Sam protests.

Some of the roughly two dozen protesters charged last fall aren’t allowed on McCorkle Place, Ayling said. She said that’s an infringement on the protesters’ right to free speech, as it prevents them from joining protests in McCorkle Place.

“It’s promising that Silent Sam and the stump are gone, but there are still white supremacist symbols and issues with institutional white supremacy,” Ayling said.

Folt didn’t give Ayling the definitive answer she was hoping for.

“I think it’s typical of Chancellor Folt not to answer serious questions,” Ayling said. “She does public appearances that she wants to be fluffy.”

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Shelbi Polk reports on education for the News & Observer. She attended Texas A&M University and followed the crowds to Raleigh in 2018.


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