Frequently asked questions on the proposal to relocate the Confederate Monument

Is this Center being built to solely house the Confederate Monument?

No. The statue and tablets would be one exhibit of many in the Center.

In 2015, the UNC Board of Trustees charged the Chancellor with studying the feasibility of a “public space to house a permanent collection of UNC-Chapel Hill’s history.” The History and Education Center has been a goal since that time.

The Center would be a comprehensive learning and education space that would teach the lessons from Carolina’s long and complicated history as the nation’s first public university. The Center would feature exhibits spanning the University’s 225-year history, covering topics such as the founding of the University, war, slavery, Jim Crow laws, suffrage, civil unrest, as well as hope, democracy, emancipation, civil rights, liberal arts, the rise of the public research university, myriad discoveries and contributions to the teaching and learning in all fields.

It would be a place for departments to meet, to collaborate in and develop programming around and would advance our educational mission with dedicated classroom space and an auditorium with interactive technology.

Graphic displays a floorplan of the proposed center. The proposed layout is in the shape of a “V,” with a reception desk at the front doors at the left end of the building. Behind the reception desk is a large exhibition space. To the right of the desk are restrooms and classroom spaces. Behind the proposed facility is an outdoor patio.

(Click the image to enlarge the layout)

How will the Center be funded?

The University asked the UNC System to place the costs in its budget request to the General Assembly. No student tuition or fees or school budgets will be used to cover the cost of the Center.

If the request is not granted, the University will plan to use non-state, non-tuition funds to pay for the Center.

What are the next steps with this recommendation?

The University prepared this recommendation and full report to meet the charge from the Board of Governors “to propose a plan for disposition and preservation of the Confederate Monument that is consistent with current law, protects public safety, preserves the monument and its history, and allows the University to focus on its core mission of education, research, economic stimulation and creating the next generation of leaders.”

The UNC System Board of Governors will now review and consider the recommendation at their next meeting.

What did the University say about a preference for an off-campus location?

Based on all the University learned from the analysis of public safety and security, feasibility and cost, the University’s stated preference is to relocate the artifacts to a secure off-campus location, such as, but not limited to, the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.

This is the safest option that both preserves the statue and allows for its contextualization and public access. The University acknowledged that while relocating to an off-campus location such as a museum does not comply with the current law, our public safety concerns make it important to continue discussions concerning this avenue, even while moving forward.

During the process the University entertained discussions about many options including the NC Museum of History. (See Appendix B of the Report to review a letter from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.)  The University was told that a relocation to the Museum was prohibited by current law; if it became legal, additional approvals would be required and costs could exceed $2 million.

Have any legislative attempts been made to change the law?

Yes. Several State Representatives along with a State Senator sponsored bills during the General Assembly’s short session in 2018 to provide the University the authority to permanently relocate the monument into “a secure, indoor location on campus.” No votes were taken.

The report says there has been work by the History Task Force to contextualize the campus. What has already happened?

The Chancellor’s Task Force on UNC-Chapel Hill History (History Task Force) is responsible for developing a comprehensive approach to curating and teaching the history of the University. These efforts are intended to tell the rich and diverse history of UNC-Chapel Hill, and its role in the state and the nation. To date, the History Task Force has:

  • Opened a permanent exhibit inside Carolina Hall called The Carolina Hall Story and launched a companion website to provide historical background about the building’s original namesake, William L. Saunders, the broader history covering emancipation at the end of the Civil War through the period of Reconstruction and the context for the Board of Trustees decision in 2015 to rename the building Carolina Hall. We urge people to read this material to have a better understanding of the quality of material that will be in the Center.
  • Developed a strategy for contextualizing McCorkle Place. As part of the first phase of an interpretative plan for the quadrangle, it designed:
    • Entrance signs and threshold markers at the north and south entrances to mark the birthplace of American public higher education and acknowledge indigenous peoples who were the first stewards of this land.
    • Educational markers at the Unsung Founders Memorial and the Confederate Monument to further contextualize both pieces.
    • Mobile-friendly digital content presentations to tell an expanded story of the entrance signs and threshold markers.
  • Inventoried named campus buildings, monuments, memorials and landscapes to make recommendations for the education and interpretation of university spaces.
  • Worked with Campus Facilities staff on a plan to enhance and stabilize the Unsung Founders Memorial. This work is ongoing. This artwork, a gift of the Class of 2002, honors enslaved and free African-American workers that helped build the University. These plans coordinate with the larger efforts to contextualize McCorkle Place.
  • Launched a website of excerpts from three popular Priceless Gem tours, working with the UNC Visitors’ Center, Wilson Libraries and tour leaders. The history tours, originally created as walking tours by faculty and students, unfold its story through time, to interpret the past, and help all members of the Carolina community better understand today’s campus and university.

What did the Safety Panel recommend with respect to creating a Mobile Force Unit for the UNC System?

The University worked with a panel of nationally recognized security consultants (the “Safety Panel”) to assess the security and public safety issues associated with the Monument.

The Safety Panel recommended the UNC System create a mobile force that could be used at any System campus for crowd management for large events, such as protests with opposing factions. This type of crowd management is beyond the scope of the typical day-to-day duties of campus police, and it requires special training in de-escalation tactics at a unit level.

The Safety Panel determined that UNC Police is effective and efficient at discharging its day-to-day law enforcement mission on campus. However, they also said that the nature of college campus protests has changed dramatically. This new dynamic has presented a complex public safety and security challenge for college campus police departments across the country, including UNC Police. The University believes this is an idea worth further review and referred this recommendation to the System’s Board of Governors.