The UNC Board of Governors will meet Tuesday for a closed session legal briefing with UNC General Counsel Thomas Shanahan.
The meeting is the first since the “Silent Sam” Confederate statue was toppled last week at UNC-Chapel Hill. About a dozen protesters with Confederate flags were met with many more counter-protesters at the site of the felled statue during a demonstration over the weekend. Seven people were arrested when members of the two groups clashed. UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt said none of those arrested were part of the university community.
Members of the Board of Governors have condemned the statue’s toppling and called for the SBI to investigate the incident – including police response, which board members criticized as ineffective.
Board member Thom Goolsby took to YouTube and Twitter last week to say the statue will be reinstalled at UNC “as required by State Law WITHIN 90 days.”
Goolsby referenced N.C. General Statute 100-2.1(b), part of the 2015 law that made it more difficult to legally remove Confederate statues on state property. But the provision he cited in a YouTube video on the subject says statues that are temporarily relocated under the law for their own protection or because of construction must be replaced within 90 days. It does not speak to a legal requirement for the university system to reinstate a statue that has been vandalized or destroyed.
Before the statue was toppled students, staff, faculty and even Gov. Roy Cooper all made the argument that the statue should be relocated for its own protection under that same law. The Board of Governors opposed that idea. Instead, the university spent $390,000 last year on its protection.
Despite Goolsby’s assurance the statue will be reinstated, the full board has not met or taken any action, according to UNC spokesman Jason Tyson. Several members of the board actually supported the idea of removing the statue before it was toppled and called for a full board discussion of the idea.
After initially saying the board would have a discussion about whether to petition the N.C. Historical Commission for the statue’s removal, UNC Board of Governors Chair Harry Smith announced last month that the board would have no such discussion.
Tuesday’s board meeting will be held at 11 a.m. at the Center for School Leadership Development in Chapel Hill.