The University of Delaware has been rife with controversy since late February, when the Wilmington News Journal learned that a Delaware graduate student has ties to skinhead organizations that are known for their white supremacy.
Robert Huber, a Ph.D student of physics who has taught physics at the university, has been exposed as a member of skinhead groups and bands that write racist lyrics.
The news stunned many on the campus and the university commenced to investigate the claims. University president David P. Roselle expressed his disapproval and concern in a letter to the university’s students.
“[Our] investigations reveal that Mr. Huber has verbalized opinions while away from campus that are offensive to the point of being repugnant. But the investigations have not suggested any criminal activity by Mr. Huber nor have they provided credible evidence of him being a threat to those at the University or in the community,” said Roselle in the letter.
University lawyers, in cooperation with the American Civil Liberties Union, have found there is no action the university can take to remove Huber from the school.
“If we later learn that Mr. Huber’s ugly thoughts have led to criminal acts or threats, the university will have grounds for taking action,” said Roselle.
Huber has made no official comment, but an article in the University of Delaware’s student newspaper, The Review had an email from Huber stating, “Age and wisdom brings refined philosophies on life. What am I concerned about today is not necessarily what I was concerned about when I was young.”
Although Roselle does not condone Huber’s association with skinhead groups, Roselle reminded students in his letter about the American right to free expression.
“Although we are limited in this instance by the First Amendment, we should not lose sight of the fact that the protections of that amendment have been particularly important to our institutions of higher learning and more generally to our nation,” he said. “No individual, group of individuals, government officials, etc. may decide that certain speech is unacceptable.”
Students around University of Delaware’s campus are worried.
“A lot of people were shocked by this finding,” said Delaware sophomore David Tully. “President Roselle stated the school was doing everything in its capacity to protect him and the students.”
Roselle himself met with several multi-cultural student groups who wanted to know what the university was going to do with Huber.
“You’re allowed to say what’s on your mind, even if it offends very large numbers of people,” said Roselle to the groups. However, the university president expressed his concern about Huber’s presence at the university.
“Is the university happy about this? No of course we’re not,” he said.
Cynthia Cummings, director of campus life at the university, expressed her sentiments to the groups as well.
“I apologize to all of you, that you have been subjected to this. I understand the kind of . violence this inflicts and I’m sorry there’s nothing we can do.”
Despite Cummings’ despair, Roselle says in his letter to the university that he promised to keep students safe.
“We will continue to seek ways to enable our students to feel secure,” he said.