Opinion

Letters: Proposed UNC history center a class bait and switch

The rise and fall of Silent Sam

Silent Sam has stood on UNC-Chapel Hill's McCorkle Place for 105 years. On Monday August 20, 2018, it was brought down by protesters.
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Silent Sam has stood on UNC-Chapel Hill's McCorkle Place for 105 years. On Monday August 20, 2018, it was brought down by protesters.

History center a bait and switch

A close reading of the “Recommendation for the Disposition and Preservation of the Confederate Monument” issued by the UNC-CH Board of Trustees on Dec. 3 reveals that the university administration’s proposal for a new building to house the Silent Sam statue and dedication plaques along with other historical artifacts appears to be a classic bait-and-switch con.

Since in their request they “ask that the Board of Governors place in its budget request to the 2019 Session of the General Assembly the capital costs to construct the University History and Education Center and the recurring costs to operate it,” the administration surely assumes that the new building will never be built because it will never be funded!

Everyone in the administration knows that the N.C. General Assembly does not even provide state funds required to maintain existing campus buildings, thus the need for a new $65 per year student fee for repairs and maintenance. Therefore, the NCGA would likely never be willing to allocate state funds for construction of a new building to house historical items of any kind located on South Campus.

The idea of the building, however, is a very clever diversion which appears to be designed to cover up the real goal of the administration which is to get permission from the N.C. Historical Commission at its meeting in the spring of 2019 to remove the monument’s base so that the administration can immediately begin developing the new McCorkle Place Gateway “in the area currently occupied by the base of the Monument,” which, if approved, they “anticipate it would take another 18 months to design, construct, and install.”

They must already have identified existing funds for this project since no request for funds is included in the recommendation. The BOG can call the administration’s bluff by not approving the recommendation Dec. 14, but instead sending it back to the BOT with instructions to provide a workable funding proposal for the University History and Education Center that does not require any taxpayer funding but uses private donations from alumni, corporations, and North Carolina citizens to build and support it. This is the normal procedure for similar public service-oriented buildings, like the education building added to the N.C. Botanical Gardens. Alternatively, the BOG can approve the recommendation as is and let the chips fall where they may when the citizens of North Carolina discover they have been misled.

Sara Malone

Carrboro

Honoring treason

On June 17, 2015, an armed terrorist murdered nine black worshipers at a church in Charleston, S.C. His stated aim was to incite a race war.

While the legislatures in South Carolina and other states took immediate actions to relieve racial tensions, the good ole boys in the N.C. GOP decided to take a different tack. They instead passed a bizarre law protecting monuments erected to white supremacy and segregation.

Now here we are three years later, and as a result of that bizarre law UNC-Chapel Hill is proposing to erect a new building to honor people who waged war against the United States of America.

Taxpayer money to honor outright treason. In 2019. You can’t make this stuff up. Sadly. But it’s important to remember how we got here.

Charlie Board

Cary

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