Economics professor calls out UNC for secretly recording during class: 'Crushed in a lot of ways'

Akilah Davis Image
Thursday, May 2, 2024
Economics professor calls out UNC for secretly recording class
The economics professors says he's outspoken and refuses to keep quiet about injustices.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A UNC Chapel Hill professor is calling out the university for launching an apparent investigation and secretly recording him during class.

Larry Chavis has taught economics there for 18 years. He believes the climate on the campus doesn't always feel accepting of marginalized groups.

"At times I've felt like I'm the Nikole Hannah-Jones that no one knows about," said Chavis. "There are times I left the building crying with people asking me to not even mention to students that I would prefer they not wear Native American mascot gear in my indigenous studies class."

He spoke with Eyewitness News outside the Kenan-Flagler Business School where he described himself as outspoken and someone who refuses to keep quiet about injustices.

According to Chavis, he received a letter on April 22nd from the university stating it has received some reports concerning class content and conduct within his class over the past few months. Unbeknownst to him, several of his classes had been recorded and reviewed on April 8th, 10th, 15th and 17th using a camera in the classroom. The letter also stated that notice is not required to record classes, and it does record classes without notice in response to concerns raised by students.

"Were we following our publicly posted policy or was there a policy just for Larry, an outspoken Lumbee guy from Robeson County," he said.

The letter also stated they chose to conduct a video review to avoid disrupting the flow of classes and to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of his teaching methods. It concluded with, "During this review period, Chavis is to refrain from contacting students or inquiring about reports brought to their attention. Doing so could be construed as retaliation which is prohibited by the university."

His contract is up in June and he's hoping the university extends it.

UNC Media Relations released a statement to ABC11:

Regarding the general topic of filming classes, the University does not have a formal policy but follows applicable laws.

Protecting the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression are among the most important responsibilities we share, in addition to assuring student success and well-being in the classroom.

Chavis is a husband and father who told ABC11 he's received an outpouring of support from the campus community with students thanking him for standing up for what he believes in.

Nonetheless, it doesn't remove the hurt he's experienced.

"I came here with a PhD from Stanford University with all the hope in the world and man, that's been crushed in a lot of ways," he said.