University of North Carolina officials recently announced that they were moving the controversial “Silent Sam” statue to a new, less public campus facility. Apparently, just hiding the memorial to fallen Confederate soldiers isn’t good enough for many of the school’s teaching assistants and students, some of whom almost immediately took to the streets in protest. Moreover, activists announced that no fewer than 79 teaching assistants had signedthreatening to withhold up to 2,200 grades as leverage to force the UNC Board of Trustees and Chancellor Carol Folt to rethink their decision to keep Silent Sam anywhere on campus grounds. Some instructors went so far as to ask their students to take a stand on the “strike,” resulting in student and parent complaints.
The TA’s actions should result in no fewer than 79 “pink slips.” It is unconscionable for teachers to use their students as pawns to get what they want in their never-ending social justice wars.
To his credit, Bob Blouin, UNC Provost, said such a strike would “violate the University’s instructional responsibilities.” He added: “Our students are entitled to receive their grades in a timely manner. It is especially critical for the students preparing to graduate next Sunday,” noting that their scholarships, grants, and job opportunities could be imperiled by the withholding. He also stated that, “Such actions have been interpreted as coercion and an exploitation of the teacher-student relationship and in fact are a violation of students’ First Amendment rights as well as federal law.” Exactly.
Blouin appears oddly determined to do the obviously right thing and protect the well-being of his students. He ended his statement by averring: “I trust that our faculty and graduate students will not act in a way that harms the interests of students and their families, and that these instructors meet the legal, ethical and moral responsibilities for which they have been contracted. Failure to meet their responsibilities to their students, including timely submission of final grades, will result in serious consequences.”
Students pay tens of thousands of dollars for tuition alone to attend colleges and universities today. Some of that money goes into their instructor’s pockets. If students wanted to protest a real injustice, while also protecting themselves, they should not take after “Silent” Sam. They should take to the campus roads and walkways and demand the teacher’s assistants end their succession from sanity and morality…just like the Confederacy did all those years ago.
That would be one protest I’d support. And it would be a monument to freedom.