UNC Board of Trustees votes to lift 16-year moratorium on renaming campus buildings

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- The UNC Board of Trustees voted to lift the 16-year moratorium on the renaming of buildings, monuments and other memorials on campus.

The vote passed 11-2 Wednesday.

The move is a step to have a "deeper dedication to reconciling that history with a contemporary commitment to full racial equality and inclusivity."

"Today, we are sending a clear message to the Carolina Community that we will reconcile our past and create a future that reflects the inclusivity and equality that our nation and the world deserve and demand," according to a statement fromChancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz and Board of Trustees Chair Richard Stevens.
RELATED: UNC professors petition to end ban on renaming campus buildings with perceived racist ties

The moratorium was put in place on May 28, 2015 following the change of Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall.

Saunders Hall was named after UNC graduate and former trustee, William Saunders. That was in 1922, after he was investigated as a leader of the KKK.

In February 2020, dozens of people signed a professor-led petition to rename campus buildings that had names tied to racism.

In August 2018, Silent Sam was toppled by students and protesters on UNC's campus. The Confederate monument remains in the custody of the university but will not return to campus.

RELATED: Protesters knock down Silent Sam statue, which had stood on UNC campus since 1913

UNC said the board anticipates discussing the next steps in a July meeting.

The univesity released a draft of interim guidelines on future renamings.

Full statement from the UNC chancellor and chair of the board:

It has often been said that the history of our University mirrors that of our nation. Just as the United States has tried to come to grips with the many realities of white supremacy and racism, our campus has struggled for decades with our own history that includes much of the same.

"Our aspirations to be the nation's leading global public research university must include a much deeper dedication to reconciling that history with a contemporary commitment to full racial equality and inclusivity. That requires real action and full accountability - and it will start with us.

Today, the UNC Board of Trustees voted to repeal Resolution #3, the 16-year freeze on renaming buildings, monuments, memorials and landscapes located on our campus. The Board put the moratorium in place in May 2015 after it voted to change Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall. At that time, it also commissioned a History Task Force to, among several objectives, begin the work of fully cataloging the names on our campus long associated with those who held people in slavery, white supremacists and racists whose actions were intended to intimidate and further oppress Black Americans and indigenous people. The History Task Force significantly moved our University ahead by demonstrating the importance of bringing our campus experts to bear on this challenge.

Last fall, we established the Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward for Carolina. Comprised of UNC-Chapel Hill scholars, students and local leaders, the Commission was created to help accelerate the changes our campus community has long demanded. Chancellor Guskiewicz appointed Dr. James Leloudis and Dr. Patricia Parker - two of our finest scholars who have an abiding love for Carolina - to lead the Commission. Last February, the Chancellor charged the Commission and in March, Drs. Leloudis and Parker provided the Board with an overview of their vision for the Commission.

By lifting the moratorium, the Board is underscoring the importance of the Commission's role to join them in making recommendations to help our campus heal and move forward with a mission to learn from our past and make Carolina a welcoming place for all Tar Heels. During today's meeting, Chair Richard Stevens indicated that the trustees will immediately study and review potential guidelines for renaming buildings in collaboration with the Chancellor.

We are living in a world where change should be fueled by a desire to create and embrace a more inclusive world, not resisted by fear. Today, we are sending a clear message to the Carolina Community that we will reconcile our past and create a future that reflects the inclusivity and equality that our nation and the world deserve and demand."
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