UNCW professor apologizes for “Blow up Republicans” post

Brenna Flanagan, Editor-in-Chief

A UNCW professor’s Facebook post that came under fire in the campus community this week caused the professor to issue an apology in a statement given to The Seahawk on Thursday.

Dan Johnson is a professor in the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences. (UNCW )

Recreation therapy professor Dan Johnson posted “Blow up Republicans” on his Facebook account on May 17. The post and Johnson’s account have since been deleted.  

“I posted a poorly worded expression of political frustration on my now-deleted personal Facebook page. I profoundly regret it. This statement does not reflect my personal values or UNCW’s culture of civil and respectful discourse. My attempt to ‘blow off steam’ understandably caused concern among many students, parents, alumni and other members of the UNCW community,” said Johnson in his statement. 

The post resurfaced when the conservative website CampusReform.org published a story on the situation on June 24. On Monday, Johnson decided to resign from his position on the board of directors at Accessible Coastal Carolina Events Sports and Services (ACCESS) of Wilmington, a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities gain access to sports and athletic programs. 

UNCW board of trustees member Woody White, who previously accused The Seahawk and Port City Daily of media bias against conservatives, called on Chancellor Jose Sartarelli to investigate the incident. 

“The problem at UNCW, and at nearly every other university across the nation, is the double standard,” said White in email discussions provided to The News & Observer. “Free speech is tolerated—even celebrated—when it condemns conservative thought and speech. When it goes the other way, conservatives are shamed, canceled and bullied.” 

UNCW determined that Johnson’s post was protected by free speech. 

“No matter how upsetting and distasteful such comments may be, they are expressions of free speech and protected by the First Amendment unless they represent a true threat … We have determined that the conduct and now-deleted post at issue do not contain any evidence of a true threat toward any members of our community,” said the statement from an Office of University Relations spokesperson. 

The rest of Johnson’s statement reads: 

“I deeply care about the students, faculty, and staff at UNCW, and I apologize to them and the university and Wilmington community. I am not a person who advocates for any kind of violence toward others. Instead, I have spent my career dedicated to helping others as an educator and advocate in the field of recreational therapy, including adults and children with disabilities. I won’t soon forget the wisdom I have gained from this experience, and I humbly ask the Seahawk community to accept my apology. I only want to move forward, support the mission of UNCW, and continue my teaching, research, and service for students, staff, faculty, and the Wilmington community.”