UNC TAs plot to 'withhold grading' 'until certain demands are met' over Silent Sam statue

A labor union at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill voiced support for teaching assistants and faculty members withholding grades until "certain demands are met" regarding a Confederate statue on campus.

The statue, named Silent Sam, was torn down during a protest earlier this year. The university plans to build a $5 million history center on the outskirts of campus to house the statue.

Graduate teaching assistants and some faculty members at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill are planning to “withhold grading” over the way in which the university is handling a heavily protested Confederate monument.

The Workers Union at UNC announced via Twitter its support for faculty members and teaching assistants withholding students’ end-of-semester grades “until certain demands are met.” 

“Many UNC workers, students & community members have decried the BOT [Board of Trustees] & Chancellor Folt’s proposal to relocate Silent Sam w/ no thought for student safety,” the union said. “Opponents of Silent Sam have asked faculty & TAs to withhold grading finals and assignments until certain demands are met.”

[RELATED: Student protesters tear down Confederate statue at UNC]

”The Workers Union at UNC supports campus and graduate workers and their call for the creation of a safe work environment,” the union added. “We also support the individual exercise of all constitutional rights by and for workers.”

One graduate student, who is also a TA at UNC, said on Twitter that she will be joining the strike to withhold grading.

“I’ll be joining in the TA strike at UNC to withhold grading for the Fall semester until demands for the withdrawal of @ChancellorFolt ‘s plans for #silentsam (among others) are met. You should too,” graduate student Kelly McArdle said in a tweet. “We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

The move comes after the UNC Board of Trustees approved the building of a $5 million history center on the outskirts of campus and the relocation of a Confederate statue named Silent Sam to that facility, according to the Charlotte News and Observer.

According to the report, the recommendation will now go to the UNC system’s Board of Governors. 

Following the Board of Trustees meeting, a protest occurred at the site where Silent Sam used to be, which now consists only of a base with no statue, according to the News and Observer.

[RELATED: Student arrested for dousing Confederate statue with red paint]

Randy Young, media relations manager for UNC-Chapel Hill, told Campus Reform that UNC student Maya Little was charged with assaulting a police officer and inciting a riot. Police previously arrested Little for smearing a concoction she claimed consisted of paint and her own blood on Silent Sam.

“I was charged with assault on an officer, a charge that has been commonly used by UNC police when they can’t find anything else to charge activists with, and inciting a riot, both misdemeanors,” Little said in an email to the News and Observer. “The only danger and violence present last night was once again caused by university police who came equipped to a student protest with riot gear and tear gas canisters.”

The UNC Workers Union praised Little’s “civil disobedience,” which it characterized as “nonviolent,” and called for “no punishment.”

”Maya Little’s non-violent actions are a sterling example of “responsible citizenship,” particularly in the face of an unjust and undemocratic state government in North Carolina,” the union said on its website.

Another graduate student, Mark Porlides, was also arrested and charged with assaulting an officer, as well as resistance, delay, or obstruction of arrest, according to the News and Observer.

Campus Reform reached out to UNC regarding the union grading strike, but did not hear back in time for press.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @asabes10