James O’Keefe and Project Veritas have an answer for those who complain that their recent videos showing college administrators shredding copies of the Constitution are illegitimate because they rely on a journalist staging a sting.
In the third and final video of the series—which like the first two involves an undercover reporter posing as a student who tells administrators she felt “triggered” by seeing the Constitution on campus—officials at Duke University and the University of North Carolina demonstrate that such complaints can be handled without resorting to destroying the document or banning it from parts of campus.
In the first two videos, both originally reported by Campus Reform last week, administrators at Vassar and Oberlin Colleges, and subsequently at Yale, Cornell, and Syracuse Universities as well, respond to the reporter’s complaints with sympathy, saying that they, too, find the Constitution offensive, and in some cases even going as far as to shred a copy of it as a form of “therapy” for the “traumatized student.”
The third video, however, features only one administrator who entertains the idea of restricting the Constitution in certain parts of campus, and even she avoids destroying the document when pressed. The other two officials, moreover, responded with full-throated defenses of their institutions’ support for constitutional principles, refusing to consider either destroying it or restricting its distribution in any way.
Throughout the video, whenever a school employee is on screen, the logo of their institution is displayed along with contact information for the Chancellor or President, so that viewers may express their feelings about the video if they are so inspired.
“I see this book is something that is very oppressive,” the reporter tells Carley Wyche, Assistant Equal Opportunity Officer at North Carolina State University, at the start of the video, saying she felt “triggered” after seeing a pile of Constitutions on a table in her dorm.
“Women, people of color, both did not have rights under this document,” she explains. “This same document allows for hate speech against people, which is just very hurtful. It allows for anybody to own a gun.”
The reporter concedes that the Constitution “is going to be in some classes and, you know, the library,” which she says is acceptable because students have ample warning. “But when, you know, discriminating things are just out in the open, where, yeah in residence halls or in places where students you know do not choose to see it, I thought that was a problem.”
Wyche responds that she thinks the request is reasonable, “[e]specially it is you know, it being such a trigger for you and if there is not a reason for it to be there, [then] I do not see a reason why we could not.”
“Get rid of the Constitution from residence halls?” the reporter asks for clarification.
“Yeah,” Wyche confirms, promising to “take the next step there in contacting Housing.”
The next day, Wyche left a voicemail for the reporter in which she says, “I just wanted to let you know, I got in contact with Veronica Cooley, who is the assistant director of Northeast campus, [and] she assured me that she would talk to the RA’s and the community director about making sure that there is [sic] no longer any Constitutions in the entryway of Berry Hall.”
Project Veritas highlights the final part of the statement, replaying the words “… making sure that there is [sic] no longer any Constitutions in the entryway of Berry Hall” several times.
The reporter also asked Wyche to shred the Constitution, to which Wyche replied that she would like to hold on to it for a day or two, just to make sure that other administrators would know exactly which document she was referring to, but encouraged the reporter to “come by my office and then we’ll put it through the shredder; hopefully that would help and we should be able to deal with them in a couple of days.”
“In this investigation we have shown that many college administrators have lost their ability to be reasonable and intelligent because they are bending over backwards…just to be politically correct and ‘sensitive’ to students’ needs,” a voiceover observes. “Thankfully there are some places of higher education that still believe in freedom of speech and rational thought.”
In the next scene, the reporter presents a copy of the Constitution to Howard Kallem, Director of Title IX Compliance at Duke University’s Office for Institutional Equity.
“This is a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the constitution,” he says incredulously, apparently not having anticipated that those documents would be the ones that so deeply offended the reporter.
“In terms of the document itself, well, I have to say that we are, as an academic institution, we are committed to principles of freedom of expression and…”
“Even when it is offensive?” the reporter interrupts him.
“I can tell you that under our policies mere offensiveness is not enough by itself to create a violation of our policies or any federal law,” Kallem explains.
When the reporter asks if there is any way to prevent her from having to see the Constitution on campus in the future, Kallem responds, “I really doubt that because again, it is part of, we do believe in academic freedom here and this is the part of that … to try and make clear that having a copy of this document, no matter how strongly it might affect you, wouldn’t be … just having this available on campus would not be violation of our policies.”
“I don’t know if I can take it,” the reporter tells him, asking if he would be willing to at least shred the document for her as “therapy.”
“Well, you are free to do that,” Kallem tells her, but says that “because it is a document that is part of our government’s history,” he would not feel comfortable destroying it himself.
The final interview is with Katie Nolan, Interim Title IX Compliance Coordinator at UNC, who is perhaps even more forceful in rejecting the reporter’s suggestions to ban and destroy the Constitution.
“Okay, well we can look at the policy and what the definition of harassment is, [but] I can tell you that we’re not going to be able to ban distribution of the Constitution on the campus for several reasons,” she begins.
When the reporter asks if the school can at least ban it from being distributed on campus, Nolan responds, succinctly, “No.”
When the reporter delivers her routine pitch to have the document shredded as a form of therapy, Nolan tells her, “That’s not something that we are going to do here; I would encourage you to go, I am not a therapist, but whatever is helpful for you with the trained professional, I would encourage you bring that to that venue.”
Jim Gregory, Director of Media Relations at UNC, told Campus Reform that while he is “disappointed in the ambush-style technique used to film” the encounter, which he said seems “dishonest,” he was not surprised at Nolan’s reaction, since “we, of course, would always support the Constitution.
None of the other individuals or institutions portrayed in the video had responded to Campus Reform by press time. This story will be updated if and when any statements are provided.