Campus hostility worsens, students left to pick up the pieces

Casey McAnarney and Elizabeth Heglar

Post-election hostility continues to grow on UNC Wilmington’s campus as arguments between students and a professor, Dr. Mike Adams, over social media erupt into petitions calling for his resignation and questions over what the university administration should do about the matter.

Though Dr. Adams has not been one to shy away from controversy, students have started voicing concern over whether or not Adams should be allowed to continue to work at UNCW.

Adams, a professor in the Criminology Department, has not only sued the university over a belief that he was being discriminated against for his religious and political views, but has also been very vocal about his opinions on the UNCW community as a columnist for a website titled Townhall.

However, some students saw recent actions by Adams as taking things too far, and voiced this opinion on social media.

This past year, a student, who also utilized their freedom under the first amendment to voice opinions, was vocal on social media about their views of the then Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, and vaguely discussed the manner of attending his rally at Trask Coliseum. They were subsequently approached by the Secret Service. Following this, Adams wrote an article for The Daily Wire entitled “A ‘Queer Muslim’ Jihad,” where he used the student’s full name.

In the article, Adams describes this student as “a ‘queer muslim’” that probably claims this title in order to “fit into as many victim categories as humanly possible. Sometime I wonder whether LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Thespian. So much drama, so few letters in the alphabet.”

Adams also talked about in the article the first time he met this student; it was at a “pro-life event” he helped create that discussed the topic of abortion. Along with other students expressing their right to protest, this student yelled “at the top of her lungs at every passerby” which was “clearly an effort to abort our conversations about abortion.”

The student claimed that this article sparked online threats from strangers and contributed to their decision to transfer from UNCW. Many students over social media have since argued with Adams regarding this topic as well as over other comments made by Adams, prompting him to block what he calls these “social justice warriors [SJWs].”

Adams cites these SJWs need for safe spaces- which signifies a teacher or university administration does not tolerate anti-LGBT violence, harassment or hate speech- as a reason for why SJWs argue with him on social media platforms like Twitter. One of Adams’ tweets over the idea of safe spaces read: “Dear UNCW: He made us think. Fire him! Love, Social Justice Warriors.”

However, by blocking these students for disagreeing with him, this begs the question if Adams was creating a safe space for his own ideas. Adams, though, was unable to answer questions regarding this due to a family emergency.

Nevertheless, students were outraged over Adams’ rhetoric, taking to social media to call on the administration to take action. A petition aimed at UNC System President Margaret Spellings was even created to get Adams fired from the university.

The petition states: “Adams has a history of spewing misogynistic, xenophobic, transphobic, homophobic, racist rhetoric. Most recently he wrote an article outing a young woman, using her full name, and mocked her sexuality and religion. Adams’s followers have since begun sending death threats to the student, who has now decided to transfer schools.”

The petition also cites Adams’ frequent use of the first amendment and right to free speech as a defense for his rhetoric, but mentioned the Seahawk Respect Compact as a means to show that Adams is not upholding the values of UNCW. What is not stated is that the Seahawk Respect Compact is not policy, and thus not enforced by the university, and is currently being revised to possibly show further that it is not law and cannot be used to dismiss faculty members.

So far the petition has 1,963 supporters, with many of them leaving comments like, “My daughter goes to UNCW, and I want to be able to respect the school. With this type of hateful professor on the payroll, that is impossible.”

In response to the the campuses current climate, Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli issued a statement that vaguely discussed the matter at hand and hinted at how the respect compact cannot be used to punish Adams. After students voiced a concern for this online, the campus instead decided to hold open forums in which students could discuss their frustrations.

Students discussed more than just the recent events with Adams. At a forum held Monday, Nov. 22 in the Clocktower Lounge, topics surrounding political divisiveness, lack of cultural understanding and silencing of minority and fringe groups on campus showed the few administrators in attendance how students feel about the work the university is doing to mend the campuses wounds.

Student Daniel Paparozzi was one of the first in the audience to address the crowd.

“I don’t intend to speak on the behalf of all my fellow students in this room,” stated Paparozzi, “but I know I speak for many of us when I say that perhaps our biggest concern right now is insuring that students feel consistently respected as they grow as individuals in their years here at this institution.”

Another student named Logan addressed the audience about the hostility currently being felt and asked if they are ready to put differences aside in order to care for one another as a student body.

“Don’t consider what you think you are entitled to, but rather are you ready to love the people in this room,” Logan said. In accordance with this sentiment, Student Government Association President Dan McCord said that  “the best way to move forward is to foster conversations between the two of us.”

However, many still feel dissatisfied after open forums that sought to discuss mending the current campus climate. All of this hostility and frustration comes after a rather divisive election that even impacted UNCW’s campus with chalking wars that occurred on two separate occasions, and these attitudes persist on campus.

At a forum held by SGA for student leaders on campus in which administrative members of the university attended, an idea of self policing and educating was thrown around. In this case, students and faculty would be held responsible for calling out situations that do not uphold the Seahawk Respect Compact.

The Seahawk Respect Compact and possible revisions are still being discussed in the meantime and The Seahawk Editorial Board plans to release a statement on this matter soon.