University of North Carolina at Wilmington: Invasion of Professor’s Privacy and Suppression of Speech

Category: Due Process, Free Speech
Schools: University of North Carolina – Wilmington

A student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington sent an email to Professor Mike Adams and others blaming the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. She asked recipients to forward it those interested in “open” discussion. When Adams complied, forwarding it to others accompanied with his own criticism of her ideas, the student demanded that the University grant her access to the professor’s private emails so that she could sue him. Although UNC-W’s legal counsel acknowledged the student’s claims were without legal merit, the administration nevertheless examined the professor’s private correspondence. FIRE wrote to UNC-W Chancellor James Leutze pointing out Professor Adams was protected under the First Amendment, and therefore entitled to criticize the student’s work. Chancellor Leutze, under intense media scrutiny, declared that Adams was never investigated.


  • UNC-W’s Form-Denial

    December 20, 2001

    Email from John C. Cavanaugh From: Cavanaugh, John C. Subject: UNC-Wilmington Invades Professor’s Privacy Dear _______, I am writing in response to your email. Contrary to some reports, Dr. Adams was never investigated, threatened, or sanctioned for saying anything by this administration. In fact, the administration on three occasions refused to grant a request filed to us under the Public Records Law of North Carolina seeking blanket access to his correspondence. We asked for and received the support of the Attorney General of North Carolina in denying access to Dr. Adams’ records to the complainant. We gave our full support […]

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  • UNC Wilmington, Without Shame, Invades Professor’s Privacy and Chills Everyone’s Free Speech

    December 19, 2001

    WILMINGTON, N.C.—In October, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNC-W) ordered the opening and examination of the private letters of a UNC-W professor’s email account. It is a remarkable story of abusive authority and hypocrisy. Four days after the terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, a student sent the professor, and others, an email that blamed the United States for the attacks. She asked recipients to forward it to those interested in further “open” discussion. When the professor responded with criticism of her opinions, and when others to whom he forwarded her email responded with forceful […]

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  • FIRE’s Letter to Chancellor Leutze

    November 8, 2001

    November 8, 2001 Chancellor James Leutze University of North Carolina Wilmington Alderman Hall 601 S. College Wilmington, NC 28403 Re: [A UNC-W undergraduate student]* and Professor Mike Adams. Dear Chancellor Leutze: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, legal equality, freedom of expression, and, in the case of Professor Mike S. Adams, free speech and right to privacy on America’s college campuses. We are profoundly distressed by the threat to free speech and privacy posed by the […]

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  • The Source of the Controversy

    September 15, 2001

    Email from [the UNC-Wilmington undergraduate student]* At 04:29 PM on 9/15/01, [the UNC-Wilmington undergraduate student] wrote: To: the students and faculty of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington From: [the UNC-Wilmington undergraduate student] Subject: In Dedication to An Undivided Humanity The summary murder of thousands of people on the morning September 11th was a tragedy for the entire human species. It was an irrational act that can only serve the cause of irrationality. As we are members of a university, all irrationality deserves from us unequivocal condemnation. This is the place where, above all else, rationality must be kept […]

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