Policy Watch Investigates

Policy Watch Investigates

Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

UNC Board of Trustees face growing pressure to remove Silent Sam

The controversy over “Silent Sam,” the Confederate monument on UNC’s Chapel Hill campus, has been raging for decades. But it appears to be approaching a critical mass this year as students, faculty, staff and community members push for removal of the statue in the wake of deadly white supremacist violence at the University of Virginia.

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At UNC, badly divided Board of Governors struggles to find common ground on some basic issues

At last week’s meeting of the full UNC Board of Governors, the seeds of the contentious board’s next major conflict began to sprout.

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Despite criticism, UNC Board of Governors moving ahead with campus “free speech” policy

When the UNC Board of Governors holds its full board meeting this week, it will take up several controversial questions and proposals on which its task forces and subcommittees have been working for months.

One of the most controversial—the creation of a system-wide campus “free speech” policy—has met skepticism and resistance.

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Civil liberties advocates wary of campus free speech bill under consideration by UNC Board of Governors

As the UNC Board of Governors moves toward creation of a policy to “restore and preserve free speech” on public campuses, civil liberties advocates are worried it may have the exact opposite effect.

“We worry about things that are overly broad, vague and open to interpretation,” said Susanna Birdsong, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

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As Board of Governors continues with conservative new road map, some worry about direction

A new UNC Board of Governors Task Force began what members called the “massive” job of analyzing UNC President Margaret Spellings’ administrative staff Monday.

The effort is so far long on ambitions and short on specifics.

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New developments in the conservative move to reshape UNC

At a Wednesday meeting of a UNC Board of Governors task force, there was a long discussion of how to make meetings of the full board more efficient, more productive, with more “deliverables.” In short, as several members said repeatedly, the objective is to make it run more like a successful business. Running the meeting was task force Chairman Tom Fetzer, the former N.C. Republican Party Chairman who was appointed to the board in March.

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Opposition to Confederate monument grows, but UNC officials decline to act

Dr. Altha Cravey, a tenured professor of Geography at UNC-Chapel Hill, knew she was unlikely to hear anything about the ongoing “Silent Sam” controversy at Tuesday’s Spellings Commission meeting.

The meeting, with panels moderated by UNC Chancellor Carol Folt and UNC alum Frank Bruni of the New York Times, was mostly to tout UNC System President Margaret Spellings’ vision for the University and discuss the 2006 Spellings Commission Report “then and now.”

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The battle for the future of UNC: Conservative members of the Board of Governors push for dramatic change

When the N.C. Senate elected Tom Fetzer to the UNC Board of Governors in March, it was widely seen as another in a series of GOP appointments designed to tilt the board - and the 17-campus system - in a more conservative direction.

Fetzer - an influential lobbyist from Wilmington, former mayor of Raleigh and chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party - left little doubt about that during a speech during the board’s contentious Sept. 7 meeting.

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Author of new book on tragic 1991 Hamlet chicken plant fire: Little of substance has changed

Twenty six years ago, one of the worst industrial accidents in U.S. history rocked the tiny town of Hamlet, North Carolina.

Twenty five workers died and 55 were injured when a grease fire broke out at the Imperial Food Products plant, which made cheap chicken tenders for chain restaurants like Long John Silvers. The victims, mostly black and female, struggled to get out of the building but found the doors locked from the outside. The plant’s owner, Emmett J. Roe, kept the doors padlocked and the windows boarded because he thought his low-wage workers might steal chicken.

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Another Historical Commission member weighs in on monument removal

New member and descendant of Confederate leader says “In this case, you have to take a stand.” When David Ruffin was appointed to the North Carolina Historical Commission in July, he thought it would be “a fairly non-controversial assignment.” Instead, when Ruffin attends his first meeting as a board member on September 22, he’ll step into one of the state’s largest controversies – the question of how to deal with Confederate monuments on state property.

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State Historical Commission members stake out divergent positions in Confederate monuments controversy ahead of September meeting

When the North Carolina Historical Commission meets on September 22 to take up the controversy over Confederate monuments on state property, Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson will bring a unique perspective to the debate. Johnson is the Mott Distinguished Professor of Women's Studies and Director of Africana Women's Studies at Greensboro’s Bennett College and chair of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission. She is also one of only two Black members of the 17-member commission, which must approve any proposed removal, relocation, or alteration of the monuments.

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The Confederate monuments controversy: What the law says; what historians say

Chapel Hill became the latest front in a battle over Confederate monuments Tuesday night, as hundreds gathered to protest the statue of ‘Silent Sam’ on the campus of the University of North Carolina.

The statue of a Confederate soldier, erected in 1913 as a tribute to UNC students who fought for the South during the Civil War, has drawn controversy for decades. But in the wake of deadly violence at a white supremacist rally over the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, VA and the toppling of a Confederate monument in Durham last week, the push to remove the statue has taken on new urgency.

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Election officials still silent on Hise investigation at five-month mark

State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement refuses to disclose any details of probe into alleged campaign violations by powerful state senator

Five months after an initial complaint, the Bipartisan State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement is still investigating the campaign finance problems of State Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) and refuses to make any material related to the investigation public under the Freedom of Information Act.

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Hotly contested local races set to take the political stage in NC

Across the state, this year’s historically crowded municipal elections have drawn new types of candidates.

Young candidates. First time candidates. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates.

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Harm reduction expert: NC can and must do better in attacking drug crisis

When reporting on the opioid crisis in North Carolina, a few names come up a lot. Robert Childs, executive director of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, is one of them.

With staff in Raleigh, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Durham, Greensboro and Greenville, the coalition is respected by active drug users, those in recovery, people working in rehabilitation, law enforcement and politicians on both sides of the aisle.

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First time candidates, many progressives crowding local races

When filing for North Carolina municipal elections closed last week, one thing was obvious: this year, there won’t be many uncontested races.

“This year there are definitely more candidates than we’re used to seeing,” said Gary Simms, elections director for Wake County.

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