NCSU: Video distorts campus' stand on Constitution
Posted November 9, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina State University officials were on the defensive Monday after a conservative nonprofit released a video showing an N.C. State staffer agreeing to remove copies of the Constitution from a dormitory after a woman complained about it.
The video, the latest effort from filmmaker and provocateur James O'Keefe's Project Veritas, also shows staffers at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill refusing to comply with a woman's request to destroy a copy of the Constitution in her presence.
O'Keefe is known for videos in which he or his associates go undercover and bait their targets into saying things that suggest illegal or unethical activities. He may be best known for appearing to pose as a pimp soliciting advice from community organizing group ACORN on how to conceal illegal income.
Conservative writers and groups have embraced O'Keefe's work, but he is reviled by the political left, and critics point to his missteps, such as a fine and three years on probation after a federal court found he illegally entered Democratic Louisiana U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's office.
In the N.C. State video, a woman posing as a student complains to Carley Wyche, assistant equal employment opportunity officer, about seeing copies of the Constitution in Berry Residence Hall. The woman says she finds the booklet offensive.
"In general, I see this book as something that is very oppressive. Women, people of color, both did not have rights under this document," the woman tells Wyche.
Wyche later calls the woman to tell her that she has received assurances from those in charge of residence halls that the Constitution booklets would no longer be in the open in the dormitory.
N.C. State officials said Monday that there never were any copies of the Constitution lying around in Berry Residence Hall and that the edited video was part of a longer conversation in which Wyche was trying to console a "student" who was upset.
"N.C. State University is committed to maintaining an environment of free speech and debate of ideas. The Constitution has not been and will not be removed from or banned in any residence halls or on any part of campus," the university said in a statement.
O'Keefe called Wyche's response in the video "unconscionable" and praised the responses by Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill staffers.
"As an academic institution, we are committed to principles of freedom of expression," Howard Kallem, Duke's director of Title IX compliance, told the woman posing as a student. "Having a copy of this document, no matter how strongly it might affect you, just having it available on campus wouldn't be a violation of our policies."