ROMS Letter of Opposition to the Board of Trustees’ Proposal on the Confederate Monument
We the following members of the Department of Romance Studies and affiliated students, faculty, staff, and alumni express our opposition to the proposal made Monday, December 3rd by the University administration to build an educational center to house the Confederate monument on campus. We find any solution that involves putting the Confederate monument back on the University campus unacceptable, and we call on the administration to take a strong position against the return of the Confederate monument to campus rather than continuing to treat its return as a viable option. As one of the largest departments on campus in terms of undergraduate instruction, we strive to create a university atmosphere that encourages engaged and enthusiastic learning. We thus oppose the presence of a monument on campus that serves as a reminder to many of our students of historical and current violence and oppression. It further endangers all of our students, particularly our minority students, by attracting white supremacists to our campus and growing police presence which has already led to increasing incidents of police brutality against students.
We would also encourage the administration to adopt a policy not to punish the graduate students and other instructors who are protesting this proposal, including those that protest by withholding their final grades. Further, we ask that the administration actively seek to dialogue regularly with student organizers about the future of the Confederate monument. Throughout the administration’s deliberations about the Confederate monument, before and since it was removed from campus, they have failed to properly take into account the outcry from students and faculty about the continued presence of the Confederate monument on the UNC campus. The University administration has continuously failed to enter into meaningful conversation with students and faculty about the Confederate monument, and has additionally failed to dialogue with members of the community located close to the proposed site for the educational center. We urge them to respond to the calls from those who would be most directly affected by the University’s proposed plan—the students, faculty, and staff as well as other community members close to the campus—rather than giving into pressure from the Board of Governors to consider returning the statue to campus.
We find the explanation that the Confederate monument cannot legally be removed from campus to be insufficient. We as a university have an obligation to take a moral stance on this issue, and to stand together against white supremacy. Legal technicalities or interpretations of the current statute are not worth endangering the physical and mental wellbeing of our students, who will continue to suffer as they have suffered in the past if the Confederate monument is returned to campus. The project for an educational center as proposed by the administration goes against the wishes of the campus community, acts contrary to the interests of our students, and represents an enormous financial commitment from the University that would be better used to fix existing problems such as building disrepair and lack of faculty.