The University is monitoring a lecturer who publicly criticized a student for comments he made in class about homosexuality.
Elyse Crystall, a lecturer in the English department, sent an e-mail to her Literature and Cultural Diversity class singling out a student after remarks he made in class that she said constituted “hate speech.”
Crystall criticized the student as a “white, heterosexual Christian male” who was an example of “privilege” after he made statements expressing his disagreement with homosexuality. Crystall also said the student’s comments created a “hostile environment” in the class that she would not tolerate.
Since the incident, both the English department and the University have said they would monitor the class to ensure that free and open debate is not inhibited. James Thompson, chair of the English department, has spoken with Crystall and the student and has instructed a faculty member to sit in on the class for the rest of the semester.
Crystall has since apologized to the student for her actions. She also sent an e-mail of apology to the class.
“I am sorry if anyone was offended by my e-mail; my intention was to promote respectful conversation among us, not to censor anyone,” Crystall wrote to the class. “We should not make specific examples of anyone and I should not have named anyone.”
Chancellor James Moeser has responded to criticism from some state legislators who claim the student’s civil rights might have been violated. Moeser said the University is investigating the situation and will see to it that no student is discriminated against for personal views.
“At Carolina, our responsibility is to remain a vibrant intellectual community in which all viewpoints can be comfortably expressed and heard in an atmosphere of respect,” said Moeser, in a letter addressed to U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.
Jones had contacted state attorney general Roy Cooper ’79 to investigate whether the student’s civil rights had been violated.
“Universities exist to promote the free exchange of ideas,” Moeser wrote. “As a public university, we at Carolina have a special responsibility to vigorously protect the right of everyone to be heard.”