1/20 Forum: Carol Folt and Silent Sam

From left, UNC students Catherine Keller, Anna Moise, Kelly MacDevette, Maria Masciello, Katherine Hill and Katherine Koller speak to chancellor Carol Folt after asking her to join them in an impromptu senior photo on UNC’s campus Thursday, May 7, 2015 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
From left, UNC students Catherine Keller, Anna Moise, Kelly MacDevette, Maria Masciello, Katherine Hill and Katherine Koller speak to chancellor Carol Folt after asking her to join them in an impromptu senior photo on UNC’s campus Thursday, May 7, 2015 in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Kudos to UNC-CH Chancellor Carol Folt. This is how cancer is removed. I nominate her for Tar Heel of the Year for 2019. It is unlikely her courage and action will be matched this year.

I need help though, and perhaps so do your editors: I am not sure that you accurately quoted Harry Smith. My jaw not only dropped, it became unhinged and fell to the floor when I read what he supposedly said.

Surely he did not say the action of Dr. Folt lacks transparency! How would the BOG recognize transparency? No! He did not say her action “undermines and insults the Board’s goal to operate with class and dignity,” did he? Nowhere are such aspirations apparent in the BOG’s recent actions. Who and what are “appropriate stakeholders?” Some guidance please.

Mark Twain could not have written a more sardonic, twisted bit of humor than to quote Smith as saying “that we are always working in a healthy and professional manner!” Is he aware that his board is populated by Tom Goolsby, Bob Rucho, and Tom Fetzer? That guy is too funny.

I raise my glass to Carol Folt and cheer her as she moves forward. Best wishes.

James P. Davidson


Dangerous behavior

As a retired criminal lawyer (UNC School of Law 1971), I can find fault in several respects with your editorial of Jan. 17 (“Carol Folt takes the right stand on Silent Sam”), but one in particular galls me: your describing “protesters who toppled Silent Sam back in August” as having engaged in an “act of civil disobedience.” Their act was hardly civil disobedience, and your describing it as such depreciates real heroes of civil disobedience like Martin Luther King, Jr. Their act was premeditated criminality unprotected by the First Amendment, which is true of acts like pouring blood or red paint on the statue or pounding it with a hammer.

By showing apparent approval of criminality in the toppling of Silent Sam by protesters, you encourage others to commit similar crimes, which you may also do by your fawning support of Chancellor Folt’s arrogant and surreptitious toppling of Sam’s pedestal. The UNC Board of Governors should ignore your editorial; they have responded with generous restraint to her arrogance.

William B. Crumpler


Not erased

Thank you, Carol Folt, for finally making the right decision on the “Silent Sam” monument. I have watched and listened as an obscene amount of money and discourse has been spent on the future of an inanimate object, dominating the news and attention of our state far too long. The continued pain and consternation caused has been far greater than many people still grasp. Harder for me to understand is the dogged refusal of its supporters to accept that a statue representing events now acknowledged as hurtful and wrong for humanity has no place of honor on a university campus dedicated to higher learning. No one has erased history. But thankfully, the daily reminder of the cruelty and injustice of inhumanity, forever a part of our history, will no longer have a focus on the grounds of our state university, where life lessons from history are taught instead of worshiping it.

Theresa W Moore


Legitimizing vandalism

Carol Folt’s parting comments are so disingenuous, contradictory and hypocritical that it is best that she leaves before she can do more damage. She stated, “The safety of the community is my clear, unequivocal and non-negotiable responsibility.” Caving to the demands of a mob of teenage vandals does not make the community safer. Just the opposite. She has legitimized vandalism and anarchy and sent a clear message: if you don’t like something here at UNC, ignore the legal, non-violent means available of protesting and seeking redress and simply destroy the object that offends you. If you don’t like the university owning gasoline powered vehicles, it’s okay to pour sugar into the gas tank. If a building is named after someone you don’t like, go ahead and burn it down. We will see more of this kind of behavior.

Students arrive at UNC as immature teenagers. Their brains are not yet fully developed, and they have zero life experiences that qualify them to dictate to the university how it is to be run. They are there to learn, and this is certainly a teachable moment. So teach them a lesson and don’t kowtow to them because their feelings were hurt.

Fred Atkins


Yes men

Now that the UNC Board of Governors has rid itself of two troublesome women, Margaret Spellings and Carol Folt, they can start looking for men who will do their bidding.

Ann Howe


Qualified successor

Congratulations UNC BOG. Your public actions regarding the Silent Sam Affair ensure any eminently qualified successor to Carol Folt will not apply because all of you have interjected partisan politics into a national search. Your actions will be widely publicized not only in the Chronicle of Higher Education, but the New York Times and Washington Post as well. No worthwhile leader of what until now has been a highly regarded public university wants to be micromanaged by a group of trustees so beholden to a highly partisan Republican majority in a controlling state legislature.

Mark G. Rodin


Ethics over comfort

To Chancellor Folt: Thank you for finally taking decisive action on the monument. Sorry it cost you your job, but thank you for being the rare person who puts ethics above personal comfort. Please don’t sign an NDA – sunlight is desperately needed in the UNC-CH administration.

To the Board of Governors: So, in one year you’ve driven out both a system president and a flagship chancellor. Good luck finding quality replacements.

Paul T Caldwell


Bubble wrapped

Glad to see the Silent Sam statue is gone for good. Is it ok to remove our bubble-wrap suits now?

Michael Whittingham


Laudable goals

I was very pleased to read the UNC BOG Chairman, Harry Smith, said that the Board’s “goal is to act with class and dignity.” I hope they can eventually achieve it.

Ross Donnelly


General disregard

I was relieved to read that the UNC Board of Governors likes to conduct its affairs with “dignity and class.” After the way they treated Tom Ross and Margaret Spellings, and their general disregard of faculty members, I had some doubts. The dignity shown to Dr. Carol Folt has been reassuring.

I am sure her treatment by the BOG will make it so much easier to recruit a qualified replacement.

Ken Jones

Chapel Hill