Silent Sam and the IAH’s Commitment to Equity and Inclusion
September 4, 2018 | Sophia Ramos
To the IAH Community,
For the first time in 105 years, classes started at Carolina without Silent Sam standing watch over McCorkle Place.
We want to say a few words about Silent Sam, but more importantly, we want to take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Carolina’s faculty during this difficult time.
The mission of the Institute is to empower faculty to achieve their full potential by creating community and cultivating leadership. The Confederate monument may have commemorated fallen Carolina alumni, but it also and indisputably stood as a symbol of white supremacy, as the source of a misogynist “joke,” and in repudiation of historical fact. The presence of the statue was never consonant with our mission or values.
We therefore offer our support to Chancellor Carol Folt, who has made it clear that she does not approve of returning the statue to its pedestal. We wholeheartedly agree that Silent Sam should not, as she wrote on August 31, be placed “at the front door of a safe, welcoming, proudly public research university.” Wherever Silent Sam will be housed, it will be crucial to tell its full story and to find a way, as Chancellor Folt writes, “to move toward peace and healing.” The Institute, with renowned scholars among its Faculty Fellows and a history of facilitating difficult, productive conversations, stands ready to assist in the process of both contextualization and reconciliation.
Silent Sam, however, is merely a symbol of an issue that deserves our more urgent attention: historic and systemic inequality. We believe that empowering faculty to achieve their full potential demands that we work to address this inequality, both on campus and in the broader world. Here are some of the ways we have done so:
- In 2016 we launched the Arts and Social Justice grant, which has funded artistic interventions that focused on race relations and immigration, among other pressing issues.
- In 2017 we created the Faculty of Color and Indigenous Faculty Leadership Group, which convenes these underserved groups to discuss the distinctive challenges they face and to provide leadership development opportunities for them.
- In February 2018, the IAH staff attended a two-day Racial Equity Institute training. The experience was so valuable and powerful that we will host a training for faculty and community members in Hyde Hall in May 2019. We hope to make this an annual event.
- For many years we have worked behind the scenes with the College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Office to help retain faculty, and have had good success in retaining underrepresented faculty. We continue to serve the College in this way.
- In the 2018–19 academic year, the IAH is launching an initiative to convene and serve the College’s contingent faculty, a crucial and long-underserved segment of Carolina’s faculty.
We are committed to continuing and expanding this work in support of Carolina’s faculty. But we need your help. Please share with us your thoughts, concerns, and ideas. This is an ongoing conversation, one that is, as IAH Founder Ruel Tyson likes to say, to be continued.
Mark Katz, Director
Jennifer Ho, Associate Director