A few weeks ago I reported on an incident at UNC-Wilmington involving the punishment of a fraternity for the brief display of a banner, which included a small representation of a Confederate Flag. I referred to the fraternity with a pseudonym (Alpha Epsilon Sigma) in order to respect their wishes to avoid turning the conflict into a major news story. Now that the fraternity has reconsidered and decided to fight UNCW I am free to refer to the fraternity by its real name, Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
In my previous column, I asked readers around the country to a) write a donation to UNCW in the amount of $.02, and b) demand a receipt via mail. This was done to make sure the university paid a $.40 fine (two cents minus forty-two cents for a stamp) to all of my readers who were offended by a public university that punishes constitutionally protected activity as so-called hate speech.
(Note: I also asked people to join me in sending Confederate Flags to Office of the Chancellor, Alderman Hall, UNCW, Wilmington, NC, 28403).
Just a few days before Christmas UNCW started to mail back checks with the following form response: “We have received your check in response to the alleged Confederate Flag incident. You have been misinformed. We are returning your check because no fraternity or other student organization has been suspended due to a display of a Confederate Flag. Thank you.”
In other words, the university is accusing me of lying. They are also indirectly accusing my three sources - two officers of SAE and their chapter advisor – of lying. But anyone familiar with UNCW knows we are all telling the truth and, as usual, the administration is the party guilty of deception.
This kind of dishonesty among university administrators has become a serious problem. First, the university enacts speech codes, which clearly violate the First Amendment. Second, the university selectively enforces the codes in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, they top it all off by lying to the public and falsely accusing their students and faculty of lying.
This simply cannot continue. And today I plan to do something about it by exposing the university administration for both unconstitutional activity and blatant dishonesty. Relying upon NCGS 132 – the public records law of North Carolina – I am asking all of my readers who were misled by the university to send the following letter to the provided address:
Vice Chancellor Pat Leonard
Wilmington, NC, 28403
Vice Chancellor Leonard:
Pursuant to NCGS 132, I am requesting all correspondence between officials at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity (SAE) as it relates to their alleged suspension – for whatever reason – from participation in intramural activities for the remainder of the 2008-09 academic year.
I am also seeking copies of all relevant university policies upon which any disciplinary action was based. This request is directed towards, but not limited to, any university speech codes or any broader codes directed towards student speech and/or conduct.
Furthermore, I am requesting any correspondence between the Kappa Alpha fraternity and officials of UNC-Wilmington as it relates to the alleged suspension of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Finally, I am seeking all correspondence including, but not limited to emails and other memoranda, used by university personnel during its preparation of the form denial of Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s suspension.
I thank you in advance for your cooperation.
DrAdams.org (substitute reader name)
PO Box 319 (substitute reader address)
Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
I expect the results of this public records request to reveal three things: 1) SAE was, in fact, suspended from participation in intramurals for the rest of the academic year, 2) the suspension was a result of their brief display of a banner with a Confederate Flag, and 3) the university attempted to cover up the unconstitutional suspension by fabricating alternative reasons for the SAE suspension.
If I am wrong about any of my predictions, I will offer a public apology to the university. If not, I will offer a list of “suggested firings” within the UNC-Wilmington administration.