Office of the Chancellor

UNCW’s Responses re. Campus Climate

UNCW Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli 
November 21 at 11:54 a.m. (via Facebook)

Let me be clear: speech that is legal can also be hurtful. It deeply saddens me to see freedom of expression used as a weapon to degrade and demonize (as a student said to me earlier). Our values of dignity, diversity and inclusiveness are critical to our campus culture. Violations of our anti-discrimination policy will not be tolerated within our environment. To students who feel afraid or marginalized, for any reason: You are not alone. Reach out to the Counseling Center, your student organization leaders, or the Dean of Students. We stand with you, and we stand ready to support you.


Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 

"We are deeply disappointed by the use of hateful, hurtful language to degrade a fellow human being, even when that language is legally protected speech. However, we have fully investigated this matter and believe we have done all we are able to do to support the student involved, given that the comments  were not made in a UNCW living, learning or working environment or otherwise affiliated with the faculty member’s role at UNCW. At this time, we are focusing on continuing to listen to our students’ concerns about our campus climate and will be doing all that we can to address their needs moving forward.” - UNCW spokesperson


Friday, Nov. 11, 2016 – Sent 6:43 a.m.

This message is being sent on behalf of Chancellor Sartarelli by the Office of University Relations.

Dear Campus Community:

I have been heartened by discussions taking place on our campus over the past couple of days. In that vein, I wanted to share the below message from Board of Governors Chairman Lou Bissette and President Spellings regarding this week’s election results. I couldn’t have said it any better myself. 

Every election finds some in favor and some opposed to the outcome. It is arguably more important than ever, during this time of transition, that we honor each other's rights and beliefs, political and otherwise. We must continue to build upon a dialogue about our differences -- not use them as a rationale for close-mindedness or incivility. 

As we celebrate Veterans Day and thank our military service members, past and present, for their sacrifices, let us appreciate the freedom they have fought to preserve. And let us acknowledge that while we may not come from the same place, literally or figuratively, as our fellow Seahawks, we are all aiming for the same destination: one that supports a great democracy that reflects our highest civic aspirations, where treating each other with dignity and respect is paramount.


Chancellor Jose V. "Zito" Sartarelli


On Behalf Of Margaret Spellings
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2016 5:28 PM
Post-election Note

From the desk of Margaret Spellings

Dear Friends:

Regardless of whether you woke up cheered or dispirited this morning, this election season has been taxing. The level of rancor in our politics is worrisome, particularly for those of us devoted to public service.

But it hasn’t shaken our faith in the American ideal, or challenged our belief in the power of education to bridge the country’s deepest divides. As members of the University community, we have a special obligation to model the civic life we want for our students and our country. Respectful, informed citizenship has never been easy, and it’s never been more important.

In an era of immense change, we are called to remember and practice the timeless virtues that unite us. We can extend grace to those who disagree with us. We can offer kindness toward our friends and fellow Americans, regardless of their political beliefs. We can make a genuine effort to engage instead of demonize, to hear out our differences rather than silence them.

And we can work to strengthen the public institutions that have made this country so resilient. That’s a worthy challenge for all of us.


Lou Bissette and Margaret Spellings         



Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016 – Sent 4:55 p.m.

Dear Campus Community:

I want to share an update, address concerns raised on our campus in recent weeks, and reaffirm UNCW's long-held values of freedom of expression, inclusiveness, and treating our fellow Seahawks with respect and dignity.

Over the past several months, we have been working to revise the Seahawk Respect Compact, which, while not a policy, demonstrates our aspirational commitment to a respectful, safe environment for our students, faculty and staff. The document was created in 2008 and signed by the leadership of various campus constituencies. We are in the process of seeking feedback from the current leadership of those constituencies, and in the coming weeks, we will be ready to finalize that document and share it with campus. 

I have previously shared my position that speech we do not agree with, or which may upset us, does not equate with speech that is threatening. Our students and faculty have the right to share their opinions, both on and off campus. We as an institution do not, and should not, regulate or respond to those opinions. There is often misinformation involved, unfortunately, and even language many would consider ugly, but this comes with the territory of free and open expression. 

However, our commitment to freedom of expression does not supersede our commitment to student and employee safety. When a concern is raised and there is evidence of a true threat to the safety of a student or a faculty or staff member, I can assure you that we take the matter very seriously and investigate accordingly. We offer students and employees all the support we can and encourage continued communication between the student or employee and the Dean of Students' office, Human Resources, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and/or University Police as appropriate.

During this sensitive, and, frankly, potentially polarizing time for our campus and our country, let me speak beyond the broad strokes of civility and respect; those are the values we have agreed to as a society, and values we expect of anyone who comes to UNCW, as a student, employee, or visitor. But like any community of nearly 20,000 people, our campus is not immune to incidents ranging from insensitivity to criminal behavior. We will not tolerate violations of our anti-discrimination policy.

If you believe you are the victim of discrimination or harassment, we strongly encourage you to report it here. If you believe you are the victim of a criminal act, please contact University Police at 962-2222.

We can't address these incidents without awareness of them. By coming forward, you will have done so not only for yourself but for all Seahawks. I would also encourage you to reach out to those whose perspectives do not align with yours. Discuss with civility your respective beliefs, and consider what common ground you may have despite your differences. 

This campus, like any institution of higher education, is a marketplace of ideas. We will agree with each other on some, and disagree on others. But we minimize the educational experience when we try to shout down the people with whom we don't agree. We must continue to support freedom of expression on our campus, while acknowledging that the Seahawk Respect Compact is a critical component of our culture. I look forward to reaffirming that document, and I remain very proud of what we can accomplish when our actions reflect those values.


Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli


Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016 – Published 9:09 p.m.

UNCW Student Government Association

We are appalled and disgusted by the recent article posted by Mike Adams. While we don't understand the need for a highly educated adult to devote his time to bullying a young college student, we do understand the dark reality that this student has faced in light of the unrelenting statements over their time here. We are especially saddened to have learned that this student will be transferring away from the university out of concerns for her safety. We will not stay silent while a member of our community feels threatened. It is shameful to use rhetoric as a means to demonize and degrade somebody in such a manner. Every human being on this campus deserves the same opportunity to learn in an environment where they feel physically safe. The student targeted through this article felt they did not have access to such an environment, and for that reason we unequivocally condemn the statements made by Professor Adams and declare for all students that as long as this organization exists on campus, you are not alone.

To all of the students who feel ostracized in the face of harassment, you are never alone.

To anybody who has engaged in threatening behavior, we implore you to stop immediately and see the very real pain felt by our marginalized communities.


Dan McCord
Student Body President


Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016 – Sent 5:56 p.m.

The university has thoroughly reviewed the situation related to a UNCW student and Dr. Mike Adams, a professor of criminology. Dr. Adams’s online column and social media presence represent his personal expressions and opinions on a variety of topics.  These expressions and opinions are neither within the requested scope of Dr. Adams’s duties with the university, nor do they represent the views of this institution. However, they are expressions protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.   

At this point, the university has not found evidence that Dr. Adams has improperly released any private or confidential information related to the student, or violated the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). There is no evidence of unlawful discrimination by Dr. Adams toward this student in UNCW’s working, living, or learning environment, per the university’s harassment prevention policy. Finally, Dr. Adams’s conduct and written material do not contain any evidence of a true threat toward this or any other student.

The university has consistently worked with this student for some time to address the student’s concerns. We have advised that the student, like any UNCW student, may utilize university procedures and policies to raise issues or complaints related to discrimination, harassment, and/or possible threats. UNCW remains committed to our long-held values of freedom of expression, inclusiveness, and treating our fellow Seahawks with respect and dignity.