NC State community,
As we start the new academic year, I write to you today to address important issues on our campus.
Many in our university community are aware of allegations accusing an employee of misconduct and malicious online activities. When these allegations surfaced, NC State immediately began an in-depth investigation that included working with law enforcement. The bottom line is that the thorough investigation did not substantiate any significant allegations. As a state institution, the university can take formal disciplinary action against a state employee only when there are legitimate grounds to do so, including substantiated violations of the law or state of North Carolina personnel policies. You can read the entire statement about the outcome here.
I know this outcome has been disappointing and frustrating to many in our community, and I acknowledge the hurt this situation has caused for several in our Pack. These are real emotions, and I am sensitive to them. These emotions have only been exacerbated by the recent riot in Washington, D.C., and threats of more violence in every state in the coming days.
If you are feeling hurt, scared or overwhelmed by these events, or for any other reason, we have resources to help. Students, if you need support, please contact our Counseling Center. Faculty and staff, counselors are also available for you through the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program. We have caring professionals here to help – please do not hesitate to reach out to them.
The discussions surrounding this difficult situation, especially at this tumultuous time in our nation, present an opportunity to address a larger challenge – the friction our university, and universities across the country, can experience when our values and desire for a diverse, inclusive and respectful culture clash with the right of free speech.
As a public institution, we are bound by the U.S. Constitution and the laws and policies set by the state of North Carolina. All employees and students have First Amendment protections that must be upheld, and even speech many of us consider hateful can be protected. In other words, we may not be able to discipline employees or students solely on the basis of their speech or expression, even when we find them in opposition to the university’s deeply held values. Learn more here.
So what can we do? First, I give you my assurance that the university will investigate any claims of discrimination, harassment and illegal or inappropriate employee or student activity and address them to the best of our abilities under the law. If you have evidence of malicious activities or incidents of bias, please call the EthicsPoint Hotline at 1-844-599-8786 or report it online at www.ncsu.ethicspoint.com. We will do all we can to keep this community safe and to advance the welcoming and supportive campus environment we strive to achieve.
Secondly, we persist. Let’s not let the haters or our differences divide us. We must continue to stand together condemning hate and intolerance and making it clear these are not acceptable here. You can keep using your free speech rights to make your voices heard about the inclusive and welcoming environment you want and expect at NC State. This administration will also keep doing all we can to foster and strengthen that culture. We can and must continue to work together to ensure a campus culture that places high value on diversity, equity and inclusion, and respect for one another.
I speak often of our values, and those are still at the core of our mission here at NC State. My hope is that at this unique time, we all will contemplate what we believe and value, and whether those beliefs and values truly help move our university community and our world forward.
As we begin this new semester, and especially as we honor the great Martin Luther King Jr. this week, I ask that we each recommit ourselves to do all we can to ensure an NC State culture that is safe, respectful, inclusive and welcoming for all in our Wolfpack.