Silent about Sam

Maybe the dog ate the UNC Board of Governors’ homework?

A promised plan on how to resolve the “Silent Sam” issue at UNC-Chapel Hill, once and for all, has been postponed. Again.

As Joe Killian of NC Policy reported last week, the board was scheduled this week to discuss a plan for what to do with the statue of the Confederate soldier, which was toppled last August by protesters. The monument, which was erected during the Jim Crow era in an area appropriately considered the campus’ front yard, was then removed to an undisclosed location. But Sam remains front and center in a debate over what to do with him next: Restore the statue to the same spot or move it elsewhere?

But in a written statement, board Chairman Harry Smith said Sam won’t be discussed this week: “A small group of board members is prepared to review and discuss options at an appropriate time. However, our Board and universities have also been focused on a number of other issues, including the legislative session, and there is nothing to report at this time.”

Killian also reported that, according to a UNC spokesman, no future date has been set to discuss the plan. So, the issue, like Sam himself, remains in limbo.

That’s disappointing. This is the second time the Board of Governors has put off this matter. They should get on with it.

More specifically, the UNC board should heed the advice of Interim UNC System President Bill Roper and Interim UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, who both have said publicly that the statue should not be returned to campus.

Of course, the issue is complicated by a misbegotten 2015 state law that decrees such monuments may not be moved without approval of the legislature. Ideally, the legislature would repeal that law, which was quickly passed after South Carolina lawmakers removed a Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds following the fatal shooting of nine African Americans by a white supremacist during a Charleston, S.C., Bible study.

At the very least, the Republican-controlled General Assembly should approve of relocating Silent Sam somewhere other than the doorstep of a taxpayer-funded flagship university, where its presence is a painful reminder of a shameful chapter in U.S. history. Inaction only creates a lingering cloud, and invites more unrest.

The board should make a decision and resolve this.

And it should remember that no self-respecting UNC professor would grant a student an extension like this on an assignment ... with only an assurance from the student that it will be turned in eventually. Some day.

More help for HBCUs

We heartily support legislation in the state Senate that would increase state funding for historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs. Senate Bill 667 would provide $50 million in recurring funding for 10 public and private historically black institutions in the state. The bill also earmarks $7.5 million for the doctoral program at N.C. A&T, which is the largest HBCU in the nation.

Sen. Gladys Robinson of Greensboro told The News & Observer of Raleigh that she has been told by Senate leader Phil Berger that the $7.5 million will be in the proposed Senate budget.

Good. Berger is the most powerful politician in the state, and it’s good to see he’s on the right side of a worthy cause.

A rating to build on

One of the seeming thousands of studies we get from WalletHub last week caught our eye: The website rated Greensboro 88th among “2019’s Best & Worst Places to Start a Career.” That may not sound so impressive, but Greensboro ranked almost squarely in the middle at No. 88 on a list of 188 cities. Among peers in the state, it placed ahead of Winston-Salem (140th) and behind Charlotte (34th) and front-runner Durham (17th). The categories measured included availability of entry-level jobs, workforce diversity, average starting salary, average commute time and average workweek, among others.

What this means is something to build on. Despite the city’s abundance of colleges and universities and its resurgent downtown, we haven’t always thought well of ourselves when it comes to attracting young professionals.

Maybe we should think better.

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