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UNC student appeals honor court guilty finding in Silent Sam case

Maya Little walks out of UNC honor court

Frank Pray, the honor court member whose impartiality in Maya Little's trial was questioned, was present on the second day of trial on Friday. After it was stated that they would proceed with Pray on the panel, Little walked out and gave a statement.
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Frank Pray, the honor court member whose impartiality in Maya Little's trial was questioned, was present on the second day of trial on Friday. After it was stated that they would proceed with Pray on the panel, Little walked out and gave a statement.

The graduate student found responsible for damage to the Silent Sam statue in a UNC-Chapel Hill honor court hearing is appealing the panel’s decision.

Maya Little, a Ph.D. student in history, filed a notice of appeal on Wednesday. She cited three reasons for the appeal: insufficient evidence, violations of her rights and the severity of the court’s sanctions.

The student honor court panel voted 3-2 on Oct. 25 that Little was responsible for damage to the Confederate monument from a daytime demonstration in April in which she doused the statue’s base with red ink and smeared her own blood on it. The court punished her with a letter of warning and 18 hours of community service to be completed over three months.

The two-day hearing was controversial. Little walked out in protest, saying one of the panelists couldn’t be objective because he had been outspoken about Confederate monuments. “I do not believe the honor court aims to give me a fair and impartial trial,” she said, as previously reported by The News & Observer.

The panelist in question, law student Frank Pray, had been a leader of campus conservative groups. On social media, he had previously called Silent Sam protesters “petulent children.” Little accused Pray of deleting some of his social-media posts and accounts just before the hearing.

Pray maintained that he could give a fair hearing to the graduate student.

Records from the honor court show that Pray voted to find Little responsible for the statue’s damage. A 12-page document summarizing the case was posted by activists on Twitter Friday.

The “Rationale for the Graduate and Professional Honor Court” includes two written dissents from other members of the panel who disagreed with the guilty finding.

The dissenters said they did not believe the statue had been damaged by Little during her protest, which she characterized as a way to “contextualize” the monument’s full white-supremacist history.

“In summary, Ms. Little sought to contextualize the monument in a way that was both meaningful for herself and for many other students, faculty and staff at the University of North Carolina,” wrote Adam Hunter, a member of the honor court panel. “While Ms. Little’s actions required costly clean-up, this dissenter does not believe that there is clear and convincing evidence that the monument was damaged, nor that it required repair.”

Another member, Sydney Thai, also questioned whether the statue actually sustained damage. Thai wrote that he had urged the recusal of Pray after Little raised concerns about his impartiality.

Amelia Ahern, deputy vice chair of the honor court, wrote that there was clear and convincing damage to Silent Sam that cost $4,048 and required more than 60 hours of cleanup from university workers.

The community service and letter of warning, Ahern wrote, were meant to be consistent with the honor code’s goal of making students take responsibility and learn from their actions.

“The court felt that these sanctions would allow Ms. Little to reflect on her actions and their consequences, pay forward via community service some of the man hours that went in to repairing the statue, and would not be unduly punitive in restricting her ability to remain engaged in campus activities while pursuing her degree,” Ahern wrote.

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