NC State student protest: IT employee's online posts pose a threat on campus
Posted January 19, 2021 5:02 p.m. EST
Updated January 20, 2021 8:20 a.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Student government leaders at North Carolina State University held a rally Tuesday to protest the university’s decision to keep an IT employee they say is spouting racist views online as a member of the Proud Boys.
They are asking him to resign.
It’s clear from some of Chadwick Seagraves’ posts online that he has strong political views, but the university has made it just as clear that his views are protected by the First Amendment.
Seagraves is in an online video introducing a former white supremacist movement leader in Chapel Hill in 2017 during the “Silent Sam” protests. It is posts like that one put the N.C. State employee in the sights of students who say he doesn’t represent their values and should not continue to work there.
A student named Kate, who did not want to give her last name because of safety concerns, said Seagraves’ posts had made students uncomfortable on campus.
"Being someone that puts my time, money and energy into this institution, I want to know that they back me and the beliefs that they hold are in line with that of their students," said a student who gave her name only as Amaya.
The university investigated allegations against Seagraves.
Chancellor Randy Woodson acknowledged that, while Seagraves’ views may be hurtful, they are not criminal and do not violate university policies, saying: “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.”
That resolution doesn’t sit well with some students.
"This man is part of a known hate group, and I don’t understand why you accept your hands being tied behind your back in this situation," said another student.
Student Sebastian Rils said, "I love N.C. State. I love the buildings and the people and everything, but just knowing that makes me lose some value of it here."
Seagraves told WRAL News that he is not a white supremacist, and he supports the students' right to protest.
"I am in full support of our students expressing the First Amendment rights granted to all of us by the Constitution of our grand republic," Seagroves wrote in a statement. "As long as they are peaceful, they should make their voices heard, and I'm proud of them for standing up for their ideals."
Seagraves said he's been the victim of "an organized campaign of slander composed of outright lies, half-truths and out-of-context claims” he says are designed to punish and suppress his right to political expression and that students are trying to destroy his career and his reputation.
He says he has received threats to his safety on the Free Expression Tunnel that campus police are investigating. A university spokesman said the university is reviewing camera footage to try and determine who might have left a threatening message against Seagraves painted in the tunnel.