Every few days, I take a few minutes to check the messages in my email account at UNC-Wilmington where I am a criminology professor. I enjoy the time away in my summer home in Colorado. But every now and then I have to check in to see if anything important is happening at UNCW. When I last checked my messages, I quickly found out that the campus and the community were in an uproar over an event described in the following email from UNCW Chancellor Gary Miller:
“I have been made aware of a deplorable racial incident that was reported on our campus this past Monday afternoon involving one of our African-American students. It came to our attention today that Brent Campbell, a rising senior and captain of the UNCW men’s track team, was training on the Intramural fields at around 3pm in front of New Hanover gym when a blue pickup truck with 5 white male individuals drove past him several times and made derogatory racial comments. Simply put, UNCW will not tolerate incidents of this nature, by students, staff or visitors, and our police department is investigating accordingly. We have spoken to Brent to express our outrage that he endured this horrific experience. While it’s unconscionable that such hatefulness exists anywhere, it’s particularly upsetting that this occurred on the UNCW campus, where we strive to foster examination and action around diversity, respect, and issues of race and culture at every opportunity. This is just such an opportunity, and we are grateful that Brent has responded with such grace and openness so as to continue the important dialogue about race relations in Wilmington and beyond.”
To no one’s surprise, the story was promptly picked up by the local media. Reactions as reported on a local TV station (WWAY) indicate that some suspect the story to be a fabrication. But such accusations are unfair given that the investigation is still under way. Those who have accused Campbell of fabricating the story (most have done so anonymously) will owe the young man an apology if the perpetrators are found and convicted. I use the term “convicted” because the incident is now being investigated as a hate crime. Since no one was shot, it is unlikely that Obama and Holder will intervene.
But critics of Campbell aren’t the only ones who have jumped the gun. So has Chancellor Gary Miller. He, too, should be holding his fire until the investigation is complete. To do otherwise is to dishonor the principle that people are innocent until proven guilty. UNCW has a history of publically reporting “incidents” that ended up being fabricated hate crimes. Of course, I am assuming that rape is fairly characterized as a hate crime.
But, as you all may have guessed, there’s a larger issue here. Otherwise I would not be writing about it. The issue is Chancellor Miller’s statement that “UNCW will not tolerate incidents of this nature, by students, staff or visitors.” That is simply incorrect. UNCW has tolerated this kind of behavior in the past. In fact, it has paid good money for it – all in the name of “diversity.”
Just a few years ago, and before Miller became chancellor, the SGA decided to cough up $65,000 in order to bring the rapper Ludacris to our campus. The university coughed up the other $65,000. When Ludacris performed for $130,000, it was a clinic on the use of profanity and the promotion of violence, including random violence toward innocent women. Ludacris called other blacks niggers. He also called women bitches and whores. To top it all off, he bragged about running over women and killing them in a special vehicle he had named his “bitch-and-whore” mobile.