A blog post and Twitter thread connecting Chadwick Seagraves, a desk support team manager in the Office of Information Technology, to the Proud Boys and other white supremacist groups surfaced on Nov. 17, leading the University to open an investigation into the employee the same day. The posts accuse Seagraves of using an anonymous account to leak personal information, including names and addresses, of Black Lives Matter activists, including at least one NC State student. Additionally, the posts allegedly show Seagraves at a 2017 Proud Boys rally in Chapel Hill, both in photos and videos.
Two days later, Portland Democratic Socialists of America Co-Chair Olivia Katbi Smith sued Seagraves, seeking damages of $45,000, for allegedly leaking the names and addresses of her and her family after Black Lives Matter protests in both Asheville, North Carolina and Portland, Oregon. In a statement issued to media outlets, Seagraves denied being a member of the Proud Boys, denounced white supremacy and welcomed the University’s investigation.
However, the allegations against Seagraves came following months of national conversation about institutional racism and many Black Lives Matter protests after the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. In their wake, NC State’s administrative bodies released statements over the summer addressing racism and claiming a commitment to a culture of inclusivity at the University.
In Chancellor Randy Woodson’s statement entitled “Grief, Anger and Needed Change,” Woodson said, “...we have the responsibility to educate ourselves and those who pass through our doors to overcome ignorance, unite against intolerance, model inclusivity, and advance the dignity and power of diversity.”
Many students felt the photo and video evidence alone was enough to necessitate disciplinary action, especially the video in which far-right activist Augustus Sol Invictus can be seen speaking with and referring to a man, who appears to be Seagraves, as “Mr. Seagraves.” With the administration’s repeated statements, it appeared serious disciplinary action would have been taken against Seagraves.
However, the administration announced on Jan. 11, almost two months since it began the investigation, that it had found no significant evidence to substantiate the claims and the University would take no disciplinary action against Seagraves. This decision comes the same week that the Proud Boys, the group Seagraves has allegedly been connected to, were linked to the violent, destructive and anti-democratic riots at the U.S. Capitol building. Almost immediately, Student Body President Melanie Flowers signed Executive Order No. 5, expressing discontent over the Seagraves decision and calling for his resignation.
While the University’s decision to not pursue any action against Seagraves is incredibly disappointing, it is not surprising. We have seen NC State fail Black students many times. Seagraves’s presence on campus has the potential to make students, especially minorities, uncomfortable and unsafe. The University’s recent decision renders its previous statements, which boast a commitment to anti-racism, void and hollow. This shows how its statements in support of minority students, staff and faculty from this summer were just posturing to fit the moment. Despite the legal restrictions of the investigation, the University should take into account the safety of students.
Why NC State continues to pay a documented white supremacist baffle us, considering that administration has responded against divisive speech in the past. In 2019, Mike Mullen, former vice chancellor and dean for the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, infamously resigned following College Republicans condemning Mullen for anti-conservative speech. In that same year, NC State also reprimanded physics professor David Davis following students publicly speaking out against his misogynistic comments.
Furthermore, the fact that the University is continuing to allow Seagraves, who is being sued for doxxing protestors, to remain on a campus full of student activists is dangerous and irresponsible, especially considering some of Seagraves’ most outspoken detractors are students of our university. Seagraves’ fraternizing with Augustus Sol Invictus, a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)-designated alt-right extremist, and the Proud Boys, an SPLC-designated hate group, should be enough to preclude him from working at the university.
If the University is worried about the legal fallback of “firing an employee for being conservative,” that is not an argument here. Seagraves would not be fired for being conservative; there are plenty of conservative faculty and staff on campus. Seagraves would be fired for threatening the safety of students, staff and faculty of this campus.
We support the Student Government’s student protest against Seagraves’ continued employment. It is not only within the rights of the student body to protest and utilize their voice, but a firm stance towards the commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity on campus. In order for tolerance to truly thrive on campus, we cannot allow any form of intolerance to fester and boil, and white supremacy is no exclusion. If our administrators failed to see that, we need to make it obvious that we didn’t.
Lastly, we look forward to the resignation of Chadwick Seagraves from his position in the University. If you will not welcome us, we will not welcome you.
This unsigned editorial is the opinion of the members of Technician’s editorial board and is the responsibility of the editor-in-chief.