Conservative UNCC students created anti-socialism display. It disappeared overnight.

Courtesy of Emma Schambach

A conservative student group at UNC Charlotte says a display it created on campus, lampooning socialism, disappeared overnight.

Members of Young Americans for Freedom say they put up the display — a mock “socialism graveyard” with fake tombstones — in a grassy area near the Student Union on Oct. 14.

By 10 a.m. the next day, they say, the display was gone.

The group calls the removal an attack on free speech. YAF says it had previously displayed, in the same area and without incident, thousands of flags to commemorate those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

A university official says UNCC did not remove the display. YAF chapter chairwoman Emma Schambach said the group doesn’t dispute that, but said a UNCC employee or student could have removed it.

“The school has informed us that they do not have surveillance in front of the Student Union where our display was stolen from, so we haven’t yet been able to identify who stole our display items,” Schambach told the Observer by email. “YAF at UNCC does hope that, when we reconstruct our display, the school is supportive and takes more steps to ensure that our property and free speech rights are protected on campus.”

In a statement, UNCC said it has talked with the group about the incident.

“UNC Charlotte did not remove (the) Young Americans for Freedom display on campus and university administration has reached out to the organization based on their concerns,” the university said in a statement.

“UNC Charlotte is committed to cultivating a campus environment in which our students, faculty, and staff are empowered to express competing ideas. The university’s vision and values promise a robust intellectual environment that values social and cultural diversity and free expression.”

Bruce Henderson writes about transportation, emerging issues and interesting people for The Charlotte Observer. His reporting background is in covering energy, environment and state news.