There’s something wrong with UNC’s business school

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had a Confederate monument called “Silent Sam”. It needed to go. They needed a solution to allow “the University to focus on its core educational mission”. So they came up with an amazing plan.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, one of those groups that idolizes past treachery, wanted the statue. It seems to me that the obvious solution would be to simply sell it to a private organization like that so that they would haul it away and take on the guilt and obligation. The UNC Board of Governors does not think that way, and had an alternative plan.

They would pay the SCV millions of dollars to take possession of the statue that they wanted.

The state’s monuments law prevents the removal of a public statue but there is an exemption for private ownership. The SCV arranged to acquire all property rights of the monument from the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). We reached an agreement with the SCV to settle the threatened litigation with the following terms:

  • The SCV owns the monument;
  • The monument will be transferred to the SCV;
  • The UNC System and the Board of Governors will fund a separate charitable trust administered by a neutral, independent trustee in the amount of $2.5 million; the funds will come from interest on the university endowment fund, not tax dollars or tuition and fees.
  • The separate charitable trust is to be used only for the preservation of the monument, as determined by the trustee; and
  • The monument cannot be located in any of the 14 counties currently containing a UNC System constituent institution.

We also agreed that the SCV would sign a separate agreement limiting its ability to display flags and banners on university campuses, in exchange for a payment of $74,999. This agreement addressed the possibility that the consent order might not be approved, in which case the SCV agreed that it would not sponsor events on any of our campuses for five years.

Wow. That’s an interesting way to get rid of something. I have an alternative: pay me half that amount, $1.25 million, to take it on. Since I am in a Yankee state, we could call it spoils of war. I’d install it in my front yard and spit on it every day as I walked to and from work, which is all it deserves.

Or it could just be melted down and recast in a more appropriate form.

Or you could do as Greg Doucette has done, and sue the SCV for $2.5 million, to be turned into a scholarship fund for African-American students.

Man. I wish I was at a university that was so rich they could afford to pay off white nationalists to protect their “educational mission”, so we could jump down their throats and instead force them to pay for, you know, education instead. UNC just has funny priorities.


  1. says

    Me and Mr oxy/acetylene torch could make that thing a lot easier to move, pretty quick. Once it was reduced to easy-to-handle cinderblock-size chunks it could be creatively re-stacked into, say, a bench, or parking lot dividers. It’d be a big win for art!

  2. answersingenitals says

    “the funds will come from interest on the university endowment fund, not tax dollars or tuition and fees.”

    I love that rational. Of course, those interest funds would have been used to pay for scholarships and university upgrades/expenses that now have to be paid out of taxes/tuition fees. UNC must have a great business ethics program.

  3. jamiejag says

    @Marcus Ranum, #1 – I’d suggest decorative fire hydrants for dog parks or non-slip cat litter pans, if re-purposing is your goal.

  4. microraptor says

    @2: And what do you want to bet that the scholarships that don’t get paid for as a result are primarily to minorities?

  5. stwriley says

    This is not as simple as it may seem at first blush. There are, in fact, a lot of underhanded things going on that aren’t supported by the UNC community as a whole. First, it should be noted that the UNC Board of Governors is appointed by the Legislature (dominated by the GOP), is chock-full of right-wing political types and lobbyists, and has had a whole series of scandals recently. There are also apparently some of them who have business and family ties to some of the very Neo-Confederates they settled with. The supposed lawsuit is also pretty iffy, since the SCV may well not have had standing to sue in the first place, making any settlement with them pretty dubious. If you really want to know what’s going on, I’d suggest looking at the coverage by The Daily Tarheel (UNC’s student newspaper) which has been doing yeoman’s work covering this story and striking back at the UNC BoG. It’s far uglier than much of the national coverage but also less of a condemnation of the UNC community, who have been largely opposed to what’s been done in their name.

  6. says

    @6: I was wondering if there was some context missing and so I read the linked article to find this:

    We learned that the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) organization was prepared to pursue legal action that could mean the return of the monument to campus.

    That definitely seemed fishy to me! On what grounds can they “pursue legal action”? Would you, stwriley, or anyone else for that matter, have any quick information as to what grounds they are claiming? (So that I don’t have to dig through The Daily Tarheel.)

  7. Ishikiri says

    “We also agreed that the SCV would sign a separate agreement limiting its ability to display flags and banners on university campuses, in exchange for a payment of $74,999.”

    This is extortion, plain and simple. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the SCV had pictures of some university governors at a puppy-kicking party or something.

  8. Snarki, child of Loki says

    I’m sure there are some sewage-treatment settling ponds that are in urgent need of a Confederate-Traitor statue.

  9. microraptor says

    Ishikiri @8: sounds more like an arrangement between the SCV and the university governors to funnel school money to the group.

  10. Ishikiri says

    @microraptor, #2: I have no doubt that the SCV and the board of governors are involved in a circle jerk. It’s just that paying someone NOT to do something you don’t want them to do is the very definition of an extortion racket.

  11. stwriley says

    Well, the gist is that they “threatened to sue” privately to only select members of the BoG several months ago and then negotiated with them to reach the settlement that was announced. Essentially the lawsuit and the settlement were filed in court on the same day, pretty much simultaneously. The SCV was apparently making a claim that they had standing to sue based on the state law that prevents the removal of monuments on public property without the approval of a state board (controlled by Republicans, of course), but no one seems to be able to explain how they would have had this standing. The statue in question was originally placed (and thus “donated”) by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, not the SCV, who are an entirely separate group. Nor does the law give private citizens the right to sue for enforcement. So why the BoG would negotiate at all is still something of a mystery, unless those who did so are actually in sympathy with the SCV and wanted to find a way to tweak the noses of the “liberals” at UNC, who tore down the statue in the first place, forcing the BoG to try and resolve it’s situation without returning it to campus and risking it being torn down (or destroyed) again.

  12. says

    If I didn’t know better, I’d think the SCV had pictures of some university governors at a puppy-kicking party or something.

    More like: not wearing their hood.

  13. Ridana says

    I really don’t know what to make of Greg Douchette. His Twitter bio says he’s a never-Trump conservative, but he’s put himself front and center against the Gamer-gate bros defending Vic Mignogna, with his Threadnaught derisively chronicling the sex-pest voice actor’s ludicrous defamation suit (Vic lost). He regularly tweets highlighting out-of-control cops abusing minorities and other conservative judicial abuses, seems to be pro-choice, and now has put himself in the crosshairs of the alt-right and klan bigots with this case. I don’t know his entire history, but from what I’ve seen he’s been on the right side of the issues he’s taken on.

    Hiring Marc Randazza as his lawyer is another head-scratcher, since he’s all over the map between cozying up to Alex Jones and Infowars, and taking on revenge-porn sites and Glenn Beck, among other first-amendment cases. I suppose in a way it’s kind of brilliant, because the SoCV won’t know whether to crucify him or tolerate him as a fellow alt-righter.

    In any case, it will be interesting to watch how this plays out.

  14. says

    I just saw this excerpt from the UNC agreement on removing “Silent Sam”.

    “…of $2.5 million; the funds will come from interest on the university endowment fund, not tax dollars or tuition and fees.”

    Is it any wonder that public funds are so poorly used when basic bookkeeping is so poorly understood by funds managers – at a major University yet – that they think that interest income is some kind of “free” money that can be used for anything and not need to be offset by necessary spending from “tax dollars and tuition fees.” Or is it the citizens of the Great State of North Carolina that are so ignorant – or presumed to be – that UNC can count on them not to understand such basic accounting?

    Another thought comes to mind. This agreement may have revealed more about the university and their spending practices than they would like. If they didn’t use these funds to buy off the removers of “Silent Sam” what would they have done with them? Is the money really coming from some off-the-books “slush” fund that is used for “discretionary” spending?

    In any case, I would think an audit would be in order.

  15. Stuart Smith says

    I dunno, when an organization gives large sums of money to a hate group, my general assumption is that whoever is making the decisions wants to give large sums of money to a hate group. Hate groups are mostly stupid, mostly criminal, and mostly pretty awful people – I do not buy narratives of people being outplayed by them. Until I see evidence otherwise, the people in charge must be presumed complicit.

  16. KG says

    Hmm… Given that any confederate veteran must have been at least old enough to fight in 1865, those “Sons of Confederate Veterans” must be pretty long in the tooth.