Mike Adams

Dear President Broad:

I am writing to express my complete outrage at a memo written by UNC-Wilmington Director of Human Resources William Fleming, which was sent to all faculty and staff at our university. The memo was uncalled for, offensive, and should not be tolerated at an institution dedicated to tolerance.

Fleming's arrogant memo began with the dubious claim that "The UNCW Staff Council has asked that guidance be provided regarding appropriate campus attire." The idea that an HR Director would send a memo telling employees how to dress is outrageous enough. But Fleming's use of the term "appropriate" was simply inappropriate. Because he made people feel inferior about their clothing, he should be dressed down immediately. This should be done by his superiors.

In countless diversity seminars, our university has spent thousands of dollars teaching us that it is never appropriate to make sweeping generalizations or moral judgments of any kind. At a diverse university, everyone should agree on two points: 1) Generalizations are never good. 2) Moral judgments are always immoral.

Fleming's arrogance continues: "It is acknowledged and appreciated that UNCW employees use good judgment in their work clothing selection as a general rule." Does this mean that Fleming has been paying attention to our clothing and making judgments about our clothing judgments? The HR department has established certain disciplinarily proceedings for those who are intolerant and judgmental. Fleming should be subjected to those proceedings and suspended without pay, while the committee's final judgment is pending.

Fleming's next paragraph also raises serious concerns: "While UNCW does not have a written dress policy or code, it is expected that all employees will wear clothing that is appropriate to the duties performed and that is consistent with the image UNCW wishes to convey to students, constituents, and visitors...Other offices and units may have a specific business need for requiring certain clothing and so some unit level dress standards may be appropriate."

By using the term "appropriate" twice in a single paragraph, Fleming's intolerance rises to nearly Republican proportions. But what he fails to state in this paragraph is even more disturbing. After using the term "image," Fleming does nothing to tell us exactly what "image" our university "wishes to convey." I would like to address the nature of the image UNCW has been (and should be) trying to convey.

When our university's Women's Center sponsors the Vagina Monologues, it encourages women to use the c-word and the p-word. The sale of vagina-shaped lollipops, or p-pops, on campus sends a message that women should not be ashamed of their bodies.

Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.