The UNC Board of Governors unanimously voted to appoint Kevin Guskiewicz chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Friday.
The Board of Governors, UNC-System Interim President and Guskiewicz himself declined to answer any questions on the settlement Friday.
Guskiewicz, who has been serving as interim-chancellor for the last ten months, enters the role under a cloud: the controversial legal settlement that gives the Silent Sam Confederate monument to the North Carolina division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans — along with $2.5 million.
At an afternoon announcement and celebration of Guskiewicz’s appointment Friday, UNC-Chapel Hill Student Body President Ashton Martin confronted the issue directly, speaking to Guskiewicz from the stage she shared with him and other UNC leaders.
“The announcement that Silent Sam would be permanently moved to another location other than UNC brought with it mixed emotions from the student body. Many students were excited to hear the monument would no longer occupy a space on campus but disappointed to learn that UNC would be paying a Confederate group $2.5 million to effectively handle the statue and by extension this problem. As a student myself who has spoken with other students about their experiences and thoughts: This is not enough.
Silent Sam may be gone but the feelings and sentiments associated with it remain prevalent both on campus and in the minds of students everywhere. Chancellor Guskiewicz, you now bear the responsibility of making sense of this new situation — and to lead us forward now that Silent Sam is gone.
In order to do this, we want you to confront UNC’s history and acknowledge the wrongs it has committed in the name of the Confederacy and furthering a racist agenda with the settlement. We want to see you take an active stance against the sentiments of racism, hate and suppression that have taken space up on our campus for far too long. But most importantly, want to see you publicly denounce hate and provide actionable solutions for the minority populations that have been harmed time and time again because of this statue. It will not be an easy feat, but I think it’s important you get a good idea what assuming this role will mean to the students who call UNC home. Chancellor Guskiewicz, there is a lot to do. And I hope to work directly with you as we push forward solutions that better the lives of minority students in the wake of recent events. I hope you will rely on the student voice when making decisions that ultimately impact students and stand for students always.”
Guskiewicz has for weeks faced criticism from students and faculty for not strongly opposing the settlement.
This week he made public a letter he sent to UNC System leadership in which he expressed concerns about how the $2.5 million might be used by the Sons of Confederate Veterans — and that the group’s values are inconsistent with the university’s.
Guskiewicz thanked Martin for her remarks, saying that he heard her voice and those of many across the campus.
“We do have work to do,” Guskiewicz said.