Mullen said that while he does believe his First Amendment rights are protected at the university, the email from Daniels was an attempt to tarnish his reputation.
In the email, Daniels said to Mullen, “In the past, I have had to defend your right to speech that was widely interpreted as racist, in the form of that oldest of bigotries, anti-Semitism.”
Mullen said he and other professors have been unfairly labeled as anti-Semitic by Daniels due to their support for Palestinian human rights. He said it's ironic he is being smeared as anti-Semitic, as he was protesting swastikas on campus and asking for an investigation of white supremacist posters.
“The administration attacked the people fighting racism and gave a pass to racists,” he said.
UNC’s free speech policy also has a green rating from FIRE, but Altha Cravey, a geography professor at UNC, said she feels the administration is targeting her because she has been an outspoken critic of UNC-system President Margaret Spellings' agenda.
“I’ve been singled out, I’ve been ridiculed, I’ve been kicked out of meetings,” Cravey said. “I honestly think they’re trying to fire me. I think they’re trying to set me up so as to fire me.”
UNC’s trustee policy regarding academic freedom says the University is committed to upholding the First Amendment rights of faculty and staff.
“The faculty member has the right to enjoy the same freedoms as other citizens, without institutional censorship or discipline, though he or she should avoid abuse of these freedoms,” the policy says.
Cravey is concerned that new revisions to the free speech policy, proposed by the Board of Governors to punish disruptors of speech, will be detrimental to faculty and students.
“The new policy is sort of Orwellian, because it’s framed in terms of free speech,” she said. “But it’s not about free speech, it’s clearly about punishing students that speak up and faculty that speak up.”
Cravey believes the policy is a pattern of the University not allowing faculty to voice criticism.
“It shows that the University at this moment, and those that are running the University at this moment, are not committed to a variety of viewpoints,” she said. “They don’t want to tolerate any dissent.”