TO: Chancellor Folt and UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees
FROM: Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor
DATE: October 31, 2018
SUBJECT: Confederate Monument Collaborative Process Student Feedback
Introduction & Purpose:
On August 28th, 2018, the N.C. Board of Governors charged Chancellor Folt and the University’s Board of Trustees with creating a plan for the Confederate Monument’s disposition and preservation. In response to said charge, Chancellor Folt commissioned the Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor (SACC) to gather student opinion on the statue and its future, focusing on the obstacles, principles, and ideas as they pertain to the monument. The following information is a synthesis of the approximately 500 responses that were procured from 10/2-10/29.
Summary Statement: Overwhelmingly, students viewed differing opinions on the statue and laws and policies as the largest obstacles to the future of the Confederate Monument.
- Students differentiated between their own viewpoints and those of other stakeholders, including: University officials, state legislators, and the majority of the adult population in North Carolina. Additionally, students felt that the administration cared more for the opinions of donors and legislators than of their students
- Student have observed a divergence of opinions on the matter, including differing historical perspectives, and see these disagreements as inhibiting the process of finding a solution
Laws and Policies
- Students voiced that the logistical hurdles, stemming from state laws and the glacial pace of University actions, inhibited the effectiveness of student activism in regards to the removal of the Confederate Monument
- Students also noted the University’s unwillingness to take a public stand for or against the argument or engage with the issue at all
Summary Statement: Students widely prioritized the values of student and community input and the preservation of history.
Student and Community Input
- Many students expressed the desire to prioritize the student body’s opinions over other stakeholders while still considering the opinions of community members, NC residents, and the administration
- An emphasis was placed on engaging with the feelings of marginalized students and those whose ancestors were honored with the monument’s original intention
Preservation of History
- Students value an honest acknowledgment of the past, including proper recognition of the place our University has had in the South’s disturbed history
Other Key Values
- A significant number of students also valued the safety of a solution, as defined by how it impacts the frequency and intensity of protests on campus. Many also mentioned the need to compromise as much as feasibly possible
Summary Statement: Ideas regarding the future of the Confederate Monument can be categorized into three overarching themes: relocating, replacing, and repurposing1:
Relocation (Approximately 50% of Respondents)
- Students similarly expressed interest in the statue being relocated with a majority recommending that this relocation be to an off-campus destination, suggesting a variety of museums and battlefields
- Of those proposing relocation, a minority of students thought the statue should be placed on another part of campus but did suggest Wilson Library, CarolinaHall, and the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery as viable options
Repurpose (Approximately 20% of Respondents)
- Students want the meaning and conversation around the statue to be changed through intensive contextualization efforts that show the statues storied past, up to the point of its forced removal
- Specific ideas towards this general sentiment include: rededicating the statue with a new intention, creating a new plaque for the base which indicates the University’s progression, and adding other elements to the statue or the surrounding area that change the meaning of the monument
Replacement (Approximately 15% of Respondents)
- Several students voiced the opinion that the Confederate Monument should be removed and replaced by a different figure of particular note to the University with suggestions ranging from Dean Smith to the first three African American students admitted to UNC
It is the conclusion of this report that the effort to solicit student feedback was inadequate due to limited time, resources, and manpower. In order to fully capture student sentiment, more efforts need to be undertaken, including reaching more groups and focusing more so on solution-driven conversations. While SACC has labored daily to meet its charge from Chancellor Folt, we still encourage the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees to intentionally seek more student input by dedicating additional time and resources to holistic data collection.
1 The remaining 15% of student feedback expressed miscellaneous comments that are not encapsulated by the three overarching themes of ideas. Many of these comments were a reiteration of principles rather than new ideas, thereby explaining that they do not fit into the three overarching themes.
This addendum is in addition to the original report. The following contains a description of the collaborative process utilized for facilitation, identifies the data collection methods implemented, recognizes the student groups and organizations that participated, and a synthesis of the responses.
The Collaborative Process, a design developed by Robert Reinheimer, Ph.D., encourages respondents to look at the Goals, Obstacles, Principles, Ideas, and Solutions when faced with a particular problem. At the urging of the Chancellor and Board of Trustees, we integrated this approach in our pursuit of procuring student feedback on the future of the Confederate Monument.
The breakdown of the feedback solicited by these components is as follows:
1) Goal: “What is the core problem we are here to talkabout?”
2) Obstacles:“What are the obstacles that stand between us and our goal? Tangible and intangible?”
3) Principles:“How can we judge the effectiveness of our solution once it is proposed? What criteria or principles can we agree on?”
4) Ideas: “What might we do? Document a wide range of possibilities. Ensure exhaustion.”
5) Solution:“What shall we propose? What ideas do we keep? How do we combine them? What is effective? What is acceptable? How can we move towards a smooth and successful execution?”
Through our efforts, we identified the goal and then walked students through analyzing obstacles, principles, and ideas — all information we are hoping the Chancellor and Board of Trustees will be able to integrate into their proposed “solution” as requested by the Board of Governors.
To collect student feedback, the committee held forums for students to attend. The committee planned forums by reaching out to 50+ student organizations and groups on campus, as well as hosting general student body forums. The response collecting software called Mentimeter was used to record the data in the forums. After the question was presented, the students submitted their obstacles, principles, or ideas, then discussed them cordially in the group to further develop their thoughts. Students were encouraged to submit any new ideas they developed on the survey.
The survey was developed using a software called Qualtrics. Within the survey, each step of the collaborative process was fully defined in the questions to ensure respondents understood the implications of the survey. It was deployed by email to student organizations, through the committee’s social media platforms, and passed out in the form of a QR code to students on campus. It was ensured that only UNC-Chapel Hill students could participate by requiring their student PID.
Student Feedback Groups
More than fifty student organizations were reached out to by email, as well as every single residence hall. Many students responded via survey; however, there were several forums within resident halls and through organizations. SACC additionally hosted general student body forums for any student to attend.
Synthesis of Data
There were approximately 250 respondents from the Mentimeter data collected at forums, as well as approximately 200 Qualtrics survey respondents. There was a wide range of responses from diverse organizations, students, and perspectives.
All data collected was compiled together and does not represent any one organization’s opinion, nor does it implicate the ideas of the University or the University administration as a whole; it strictly represents the opinions of the students that chose to add their voice to the conversation.