- The Washington Times - Friday, September 23, 2016

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has affirmed its commitment to free speech after an English professor boasted on social media about erasing students’ pro-Donald Trump chalkings.

Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli issued a statement Thursday after Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams posted several photos on Facebook of her washing away what she considered “racist” and “hateful” language on campus, Campus Reform reported.

Mr. Sartarelli didn’t mention Ms. Abrams in his statement, nor the nature of the chalkings, but said he was responding to questions over “the university’s approach to free expression via the ‘chalking’ of messages on our campus.”

“It is important to recognize that there will be times when chalking offends or even upsets us, individually or as a campus that stands for respect, inclusion, and a diversity of perspectives and people,” he wrote. “Over the next several weeks, there will inevitably be an increase in expression, in many forms, about the candidates (presidential and others) and the issues at play. We are an institution of learning and a marketplace of ideas, and a campus that doesn’t just permit but actively encourages our population to engage in dialogue about sensitive topics. The safety of those who wish to express their viewpoints is of utmost importance. In turn, the safety of those exposed to those expressions is also critical.

“I do believe it is important to note that not agreeing with an opinion shouldn’t be equated with feeling threatened by it,” the chancellor added.

“I take seriously my obligation as your chancellor to encourage free and open expression while treating each other with respect and dignity — not just in your political opinions but always,” Mr. Sartarelli wrote. “We are Seahawks, and we must not let differences divide us. This election season is a timely opportunity to illustrate our campus’s regard for higher learning and the honor with which we approach the exchange of ideas.”

According to now-deleted photos posted on Ms. Abrams Facebook page, one of the messages she erased read, “Vote Trump/Crooked Hillary is the establishment!!” Campus Reform reported.

Another read, “Vote Trump.”

Ms. Abrams wrote that she would carry water bottles around campus so she could “get rid of as many as possible.”

She claimed that the phrase “Make America White Again” was included in some of the chalkings, as was “a representation of the Pepe the Frog meme which is synonymous with online white supremacist groups,” Campus Reform reported. The professor did not post images of either of those messages.

“I welcome intellectual discourse and work hard to foster dialogue between opposing points of view,” Ms. Abrams explained to Campus Reform. “But the racist content is in violation of the university’s tolerance policy.”

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