New UNC chancellor plans to move university forward amidst Silent Sam controversy

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.(WNCN) — On Friday, the UNC Board of Governors unanimously approved Kevin Guskiewicz as the 12th chancellor of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

This vote happened after 80 protesters gathered outside the BOG meeting in response to the recent $2.5 million settlement UNC BOG made with the Sons of Confederate Veterans for the preservation of the confederate statue, Silent Sam.

Protesters said they had hoped to confront the board members about the payout of what they are calling “white supremacy.”

When they found out the board meeting was going to happen through a conference call and none of the board members would be appearing in person, they decided to plan a protest anyway.

“It’s very clear they are using telecommuting to avoid public accountability,” said Lindsay Ayling, a student activist. “The Board of Governors has no interest in supporting UNC students.”

The BOG did allow the public inside to listen in on the conference call where members did talk about the letter Guskiewicz sent to them about the concerns he had about the $2.5 million settlement.

In the letter, he was concerned the money was being used for what he called an “unsupportable understanding of history.”

The board members decided to finish the discussion during the closed session.

When they came back from closed session, the board members unanimously approved Guskiewicz as the new chancellor.

UNC interim System President Bill Roper was the only UNC leader at the meeting, and he did not take any questions afterward.

At an event on Friday afternoon in downtown Chapel Hill, Guskiewicz gave his first remarks as the UNC Chancellor.       

“I’m humbled and honored to become Carolina’s 12th chancellor,” Guskiewicz said. “I’m prepared to lead us forward with purpose, humility, and vision alongside our world-class faculty, dedicated staff and 30,000 curious and brilliant students.”

UNC student body president Ashton Martin also spoke about at the event about the pain the Silent Sam statue has caused on campus and asked Guskiewicz to do something about it.

“We want to see you take an active sentiment against the sentiments of racism hate, and suppression that has taken up space on our campus for far too long,” Martin said.

During his remarks, Guskiewicz announced a $5 million plan to create the “History, Race, and A Way Forward Commission.” He said this will include academic initiatives for research, teaching, and diversity training.

“It will help us to study our past, learn from that past, heal from that past and move forward together as a community,” Guskiewicz said.

Guskiewicz did not take any questions after the event.

Not all of the UNC community is happy about Guskiewicz being named the new chancellor.

CBS 17 reached out to student activist Lindsay Ayling for her thoughts and she sent the following statement:

“It is unsurprising that the Board of Governors rewarded Kevin Guskiewicz for facilitating their collaboration with white supremacy. Guskiewicz knew about the sham settlement in advance.  He chose not to consult with any faculty from UNC’s law school, who could have told him the Sons of Confederate Veterans had no case. He chose not to consult with any anti-racist students, who could have told him that the NC Sons of Confederate Veterans elevate Holocaust deniers like Boyd Cathey to positions of prominence, and have overlapping membership with overtly white supremacist and anti-semitic organizations like League of the South. When UNC students, workers, faculty, and community members demanded that he call upon the BOG to retract the payout and give reparations to those most harmed by UNC’s white supremacy, he declined. Guskiewicz must resign his position effective immediately.”

Lindsay Ayling

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