Free Speech on Campus graphic

After punishing students for sit-in, UC Davis accused of selectively enforcing free expression policy – January 2018

Davis, CA

In January 2018, about 50 University of California, Davis students — led by the school’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) — protested proposed tuition increases by occupying the lobby of an administrative building on campus. Six of the students faced disciplinary hearings for occupying the building overnight, which invited comparisons to past demonstrations after which disciplinary procedures were not enforced. Many on the university’s board of governors joined students in their stark opposition to the tuition hikes, which were ultimately delayed.

Key Players

The University of California (UC) Board of Regents is the governing body of the entire UC system, and comprises 26 voting members appointed by the governor of California. The board includes the UC president, currently Janet Napolitano, and the California governor, currently Democrat Jerry Brown.

Gary May is the chancellor of UC Davis. His predecessor, Linda Katehi, was the object of student protests and resigned in August 2016.

Students for a Democratic Society at Davis is a chapter of a larger left-wing student activist movement dating back to the mid-twentieth century. The chapter’s self-described focus is “improving education rights, workers’ rights, and putting an end to racism, patriarchy, war and imperialism,” according to its Facebook page. Many of the student protesters in January were affiliated with SDS at Davis.

Further Details

In January 2018, the UC Board of Regents proposed a tuition increase for the entire UC system. The proposal would have increased baseline in-state tuition and fees by 2.7 percent, from $12,630 to $12,972. It also included a 3.5 percent increase to the supplemental tuition costs that out-of-state and international students pay; with this 3.5 percent increase, the additional fees that out-of-state students pay would rise from $28,014 to $28,992. The $978 increase in supplemental fees for out-of-state students would bring their tuition from $40,644 to $41,622, representing a 2.4 percent increase overall in their total tuition fees. The board was expected to meet on January 24 to confirm the changes.

UC Davis students began protesting the tuition hikes on January 23, having learned of them just days before the Board was to vote. Students had previously protested rising tuition costs in 2009 and 2011, and in the latter instance photos of campus police using pepper spray on student demonstrators went viral.

On January 23, approximately 50 protesters assembled outside the Memorial Union before marching with signs to Mrak Hall, the primary location of the UC Davis administration, reported The Davis Vanguard. Students occupied the first-floor lobby of Mrak for three days and two nights, according to The Sacramento Bee. SDS at Davis, the organization that spearheaded the protest, had apparently been planning the demonstration for several days. In a January 19 Facebook post, it wrote, “Students cannot take another tuition hike. We are sitting in on Mrak Hall.”

Only six of the student protesters maintained the sit-in overnight. Administrators collected student identification numbers from them and notified them they were violating UC Davis policy by occupying a university building after regular business hours, said Zachary Markham, one of the six. They were told they would face disciplinary proceedings for their actions.

The university emphasized that the students were not being disciplined for their participation in protests, but rather for their violation of the university policy about after-hours occupation of a campus building. UC Davis’ student expression guide notes that students “may not engage in an occupation/sit-in of an office or other non-public space in a university building in violation of the university’s time, place and manner regulations. If you do, you may be subject to student disciplinary action or arrest for trespassing.”

Students argued the disciplinary hearings levied against the six protesters represented a selective enforcement of the student expression policy. In spring 2016, some two dozen students had led a five-week sit-in outside of then-Chancellor Katehi’s office in Mrak Hall. Protesters were concerned that Katehi’s positions on multiple corporate boards created a conflict of interest for her. Katehi held seats on the boards of both textbook publisher John Wiley & Sons and for-profit educational company DeVry Education Group, which faced a 2016 suit from the Federal Trade Commission for its exaggerated claims about alumni employment rates and income prospects.

During the 2016 protest, students took shifts occupying the fifth-floor lobby outside of Katehi’s office. The demonstrators received warnings, including a formal letter threatening disciplinary action. However, they were not disciplined and were even allowed to store food in a staff refrigerator during their protest. The lengthy sit-in preceded Katehi’s August 2016 resignation.

That protest and Katehi’s consequent resignation drew national media attention. Some speculated that this spotlight led the administration to show leniency toward that group of student protesters.

“An administrative response during such a high-profile case could cause irreparable damage to the university’s image if the public viewed it in a negative light,” wrote the editorial board of The California Aggie, UC Davis’ student newspaper, in an April 2018 editorial. “Now, when faced with a protest that hasn’t had as much media attention, the administration has begun to enforce the campus policies it overlooked during 2016.”


Students for a Democratic Society hold a public meeting with UC Davis chancellor

In the days after the protest, SDS at Davis held a public meeting with Chancellor May and other campus administrators. In this first of a series of meetings, SDS discussed the proposed tuition increases, in addition to housing and food insecurity, issues with campus police, and other tenets of its advocacy. Subsequent meetings shifted away from discussion of the protest, focusing especially on the alleged militarization of the UC Davis campus police instead, reported the Aggie.

UC Regents indefinitely delay vote to confirm in-state tuition hikes

In the wake of the protest at Davis, the UC Board of Regents announced on January 24 that it would delay its vote on the proposed increase of baseline tuition until May. However, on March 15, the board approved the 3.5 percent increase on the supplemental tuition fees that out-of-state and international students pay. Then, in April 2018, the board delayed the vote on baseline tuition indefinitely, in hopes that the state legislature would provide greater funding to the UC system, which would render the tuition increase on in-state students unnecessary. As a result, out-of-of state and international students in the UC system experienced a $978 increase in their tuition; in-state students have not yet faced a tuition increase this year.

Six students who occupied Mrak Hall overnight face censure and probation

In April 2018, the six student protesters who occupied the building overnight faced a public disciplinary hearing, led by the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs. It included members of the Campus Judicial Board, a body of students appointed by the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs to handle cases of suspected student misconduct. On April 26, the undergraduate student senate passed a resolution condemning the charges against the six student protesters.

According to several of the student protesters who faced the hearing, all six were found guilty of violating university policy. Several of the students reported being placed on disciplinary probation and now have disciplinary records with the university. The terms of probation can include restrictions on students’ privileges and eligibility for activities. Violation of the probationary terms or other misconduct during probation can lead to more serious consequences, including suspension or dismissal.

The disciplinary measures can also limit eligibility for on-campus employment, and at least one student claimed to have lost on-campus job opportunities because of the charges.

External References

UC Davis student sit-in comes to quiet end, The Sacramento Bee

FTC Brings Enforcement Action Against DeVry University

UC and CSU prepare for another year of tuition hikes, The Sacramento Bee

Students Protest Proposed Tuition Hike by UC, The Davis Vanguard

UC Davis Student Expression Guide

UC Davis Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs

UC Davis allowed takeover for weeks in 2016. Students now face discipline after 3 days, The Sacramento Bee

Tuition hike delayed as UC takes up budget fight at Capitol, The Sacramento Bee

Student protesters deserve genuine university support, The California Aggie

UC Davis Administration Allegedly Selectively Suppresses Freedom of Speech, The Davis Vanguard

Students for a Democratic Society meets with chancellor to address food, housing insecurity, budget mismanagement, tuition hike. The California Aggie

UC Regents approve nonresident tuition hike, The California Aggie

At third meeting between students and administration, students discuss solutions to UCPD militarization, racialized targeting, The California Aggie

Prepared by Maya Gandhi ’20

Uploaded June 6, 2018


Free Speech on Campus graphic

Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government disinvites Chelsea Manning from visiting fellowship – September 14, 2017

Cambridge, MA

After key figures in the United States government publicly criticized Chelsea Manning’s invitation to be a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (KSG), the offer was rescinded. She had previously served seven years in a military prison for illegally providing national security-related government documents to WikiLeaks before having her sentence commuted by President Barack Obama.

Key Players

Chelsea Manning is a former private first class in the U.S. Army. She was arrested and imprisoned in 2010 after WikiLeaks published confidential documents she had disclosed to the site. She was charged on 22 counts relating to the unauthorized possession and distribution of more than 720,000 confidential military and diplomatic documents. On July 20, 2013, she was convicted in a court-martial on all but one of the original charges, or slightly altered versions of them: aiding the enemy, which could have resulted in a death sentence. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison. In court, Manning defended her actions by saying she had wanted to start a debate about U.S. foreign policy, reported the BBC. She explained at a sentencing hearing that she had believed she could “change the world for the better.” While in prison, Manning, a transgender woman originally named Bradley, reportedly tried to take her own life twice and went on a hunger strike in 2016 until the Army agreed to pay for her gender reassignment surgery. In November 2016, Obama commuted her sentence, resulting in her release the following May after serving seven years in prison. A White House spokesperson said this was to make Manning’s sentence comparable to the ones handed down to other government “whistleblowers.”

Douglas W. Elmendorf is dean of the KSG at Harvard. He informed Manning on the phone that she was no longer welcome as a visiting fellow, but that she was still eligible to speak at the university. Elmendorf publicly called the decision to offer Manning a fellowship a “mistake.”

Further Details

The visiting fellows program is sponsored by the KSG’s Institute of Politics (IOP), and those selected to receive fellowships attend a number of campus events and engagements where they interact with the student community. Bill Delahunt, a former Massachusetts Democratic congressman who was then acting director of the IOP, said the program seeks to broaden “the range and depth of opportunity for students to hear from and engage with experts, leaders and policy-shapers” and welcomes a “breadth of thought-provoking viewpoints on race, gender, politics and the media,” reported The New York Times. Manning was to be part of a class that included Sean Spicer, former press secretary for the Trump administration, and Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign manager, among others. Also included in that class of fellows were MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, resigned as a non-resident senior fellow over Manning’s initial invitation to become an IOP visiting fellow. NPR reported that he said he could not be part of an institution that “honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information.” Then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo followed suit by canceling his own planned appearance at the Kennedy School. He claimed that “Harvard’s actions implicitly tell its students that you too can be a fellow at Harvard and a felon under United States law,” and called Manning an “American traitor,” reported The Washington Post.

The Times reported that Elmendorf called Manning to explain the disinvitation, which occurred less than two days after the initial offer. He told her she was still invited to spend a day speaking to students at the Kennedy School, but that the school was concerned that the title of visiting fellow would wrongly imply its endorsement of her actions. The call lasted about 10 minutes, and Manning’s team left the call “stunned and insulted,” according to the Times. Manning tweeted her refusal to speak at Harvard, and wrote that she was “honored to be 1st disinvited trans woman visiting @harvard fellow.” She continued in a separate tweet, “so @harvard says @seanspicer & @Clewandowski [former Trump campaign spokesman Corey Lewandowski] bring ‘something to the table and add something to the conversation’ and not me.”

After withdrawing Manning’s fellowship, Elmendorf released a statement explaining the decision and repeating that Manning was still welcome “to meet with students and others who are interested in talking with her, and then to give remarks in the [John F. Kennedy Jr.] Forum where the audience would have ample opportunity—as with all of our speakers—to ask hard questions and challenge what she has said and done.” He later added, “We did not intend to honor her in any way or to endorse any of her words or deeds, as we do not honor or endorse any Fellow.” Elmendorf proceeded to describe the invitation as a “mistake” and admitted that his own assessment of the matter had been wrong. “I see more clearly now that many people view a Visiting Fellow title as an honorific, so we should weigh that consideration when offering invitations,” he wrote.


Harvard students and alumni criticize disinvitation

A Harvard Crimson op-ed written shortly after the announcement of Manning’s disinvitation was signed by 159 faculty members. It criticized the university for reacting to a “climate of anxiety and intimidation,” and decried the pressure from Morrell and Pompeo as “overt intimidation by the federal government.” In conclusion, the op-ed requested that Harvard do three things: add “criminal history” to its existing non-discrimination policies; support faculty interest in prison education; and invite Chelsea Manning “to a public forum to discuss her work and advocacy for LGBTQ rights.”

A petition titled “Tell the Harvard Kennedy School: Revoking Chelsea Manning’s Fellowship is Disgraceful” also circulated online, garnering more than 16,000 signatures. Another petition with more than 2,000 student and alumni signatures called on Harvard to apply the same level of scrutiny to Spicer and Lewandowski and to disinvite them as well.

External References

Chelsea Manning: Wikileaks Source and her turbulent life, BBC

Sean Spicer and Chelsea Manning join Harvard as visiting fellows, The New York Times

Harvard withdraws fellowship offer to Chelsea Manning, NPR

Harvard dean rescinds Chelsea Manning’s visiting fellow invitation, calling it a ‘mistake,’ The Washington Post

Statement from Dean Elmendorf regarding the invitation to Chelsea Manning to be a Visiting Fellow

Harvard disinvites Chelsea Manning, and the feeling is mutual, the New York Times

We are educators, not prosecutors, The Harvard Crimson

How the decision to offer—and then revoke—Chelsea Manning’s fellowship blew up on Harvard,

Incidents at Harvard and Catholic Universities challenge the idea that liberals are the only ones preventing ideas from being voiced on campus, Inside Higher Ed

Obama commutes Chelsea Manning’s Sentence, Politico

Prepared by Graham Piro ‘18

Uploaded May 29, 2018


Free Speech on Campus graphic

Pro-Palestinian group interrupts Israeli panel discussion at UC Irvine – May 3, 2018

Irvine, CA

The College Republicans at University of California (UC), Irvine hosted a panel featuring five reservists from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on May 3, 2018. Pro-Palestine demonstrators interrupted the question-and-answer session, holding signs and chanting until they were escorted from the room by campus police. They continued to chant outside for the remainder of the event, at times disrupting the speakers.

Key Players

Reservists on Duty is an organization that brings IDF reservists to college campuses in the United States to talk about their experiences. Its website says the organization aims to counteract the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and the “new forms of anti-Semitism erupting on college campuses across America.” The group sent five reservists to speak at UC Irvine in collaboration with the local College Republicans chapter.

National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) is an organization that arranges events and actions at universities across the US to promote the rights of Palestinians, whom it describes as living under Israeli occupation and colonialism. In September 2017, the NSJP chapter at UC Irvine began a two-year probation period after interrupting an event featuring Reservists on Duty in May 2017. Members of the Irvine NSJP had also disrupted a similar event in May 2016. In a statement to The Jerusalem Post, the university said it did not think the individuals who interrupted the May 2018 panel discussion were UC Irvine students. NSJP members would have risked incurring further sanctions from the university if they had participated in another disruption during the probation period, UCI spokesperson Tom Vasich told The Washington Free Beacon. “Any further violations of university policy may result in suspension or a revocation of [NSJP’s] status,” he said.

Further Details

On May 3, 2018, the UC Irvine College Republicans (CRUCI) hosted five people from the Israeli military, members of Reservists on Duty, for a panel discussion during its weekly meeting. After introducing the guests, a member of CRUCI explained the rules of the event: “When I select you during the question and answer period, you can talk; if you haven’t been selected, you can’t talk. If you violate those rules, you will be removed,” according to a livestream of the event on CRUCI’s Facebook page.

Early in the question-and-answer period—about 40 minutes into the meeting—approximately seven people filed into the room and were seated. According to FIRE, one of them said, “You guys talking about how it’s cool to shoot the kids at the Gaza border?” The CRUCI moderator responded, “Please, no talking out of line, sir,” but the protesters began to chant, repeating phrases like, “IDF what do you say, how many kids have you killed today?” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” and “All the walls have got to go, from Palestine to Mexico!” The demonstrators displayed Palestinian flags, wore keffiyehs, or Bedouin Arab kerchiefs, on their heads, held signs that read “IDF not welcome,” and used a bullhorn to amplify their shouts. After chanting for approximately five minutes, the protesters left the room, accompanied by UC Irvine campus police. During the interruption, the reservists on the panel had lined up silently in front of their table holding an Israeli flag. One of them also held a sign that read, “Do you want to talk or do you want to shout?”

The protesters continued to chant outside of the event room, at times drowning out the panelists. The Reservists on Duty members attempted to speak louder in order to continue the event, and had to repeat themselves at times to make themselves heard. Campus police informed the event’s attendees that if they felt unsafe, there were escorts available to help them leave after the meeting was over. Kayla Dolin, who spoke on the panel and is the volunteer coordinator for Reservists on Duty, explained to Ynet News that she and the other panelists needed an escort of 20 campus police officers to protect them as they left the event. Dolin also told Jerusalem Post that she had been called a “Christ-killer” and had been told as she departed that she should get out of America. She shared a video with Jerusalem Post that confirmed her account of the encounter, although a man who appeared in it did not seem to be one of the protesters who initially interrupted the discussion in the room.


UC Irvine, unable to determine whether protesters were students, declines to pursue disciplinary action

Because the members of UC Irvine’s NSJP chapter were currently serving out a probation period after interrupting a Reservists on Duty event the previous May, the school’s administration said it did not believe the pro-Palestine protesters at the May 2018 event were affiliated with NSJP. According to Jerusalem Post, a UC Irvine spokesperson said, “To our knowledge, the protesters were not UCI students, so there will not be a student conduct review.” UC Irvine has time, place, and manner regulations on Free Speech, which focus on ensuring the safety of its students and the smooth maintenance of university functions. The university also has regulations about the use of amplification, but despite the protesters’ use of a bullhorn, it said no punishment would be pursued, since the group complied when campus police officers requested they leave the building.

External References

IDF @ CRUCI – Israel Palestine Conflict w/ Special Guest: Reservists on Duty, CRUCI’s Facebook page

Pro-Palestinian activists disrupt Israeli panel on US campus, Ynet News

Police Escort Required for Israeli Speakers after US College Protest, The Jerusalem Post

University of California, Irvine Code of Student Conduct

College Republicans event featuring Israeli reservists disrupted at UC Irvine, FIRE

UC Irvine Softens Sanctions on Students for Justice in Palestine, Washington Free Beacon

Prepared by Gustav Honl-Stuenkel ‘20

Uploaded May 29, 2018

Free Speech on Campus graphic

Florida teacher leaves school after details surface about white-nationalist podcast she hosted – April 10, 2018

Crystal River, FL

A Florida middle school teacher came under fire from school administrators and on social media, after a HuffPost investigation revealed she had been hosting a white-nationalist podcast titled “Unapologetic.”

Key Players

Dayanna Volitich is host of the white nationalist podcast “Unapologetic” and, until April 2018, was a social studies teacher at Crystal River Middle School in Crystal River, Florida, a town located approximately 80 miles north of Tampa. She operated under the pseudonym Tianna Dalichov and managed a Twitter account with more than 1,000 followers.

Christopher Mathias, Jenna Amatulli, and Rebecca Klein are the HuffPost journalists who broke the investigation into Volitich. Mathias is a national reporter, Amatulli a trends reporter, and Klein an education reporter.

Further Details

“Unapologetic” premiered as a pilot episode on February 6, 2018, on “Remso Republic,” another podcast hosted by Remso Martinez, an “independent journalist” and “advocate for individual liberty,” according to his SoundCloud account. “Unapologetic” described itself as “a show that jumps into hard and taboo topics combining facts, class, and sass,” and it launched on Apple Podcasts and the popular podcasting platform Stitcher.

In an episode of “Unapologetic” that aired on February 26, 2018, Volitich’s guest — Lana Lokteff, who hosts her own far-right podcast and co-owns with her husband the media outlet Red Ice, which was classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — opposed the notion that “a kid from Nigeria and a kid who came from Sweden are supposed to learn exactly the same” and “have the same IQ.” Volitich herself went on to assert that some races are more intelligent than others. This theory, known as social Darwinism, has long been discredited, but has often been used to justify racism. In the same episode, Volitich confessed to lying to her own school’s principal after parents complained that she was injecting political bias into her lessons. Volitich agreed with Lokteff’s suggestion that white supremacists need to infiltrate public schools as teachers, saying, “I’m absolutely one of them.”

Volitich also espoused Islamophobic sentiments in her podcast. The summary of the episode, titled “Growth of Islam,” describes the religion as an “ideology hell-bent on destroying Western culture.” She discussed a 2018 Pew Research Center study projecting that Muslims will replace Jews as the country’s second-largest religious group after Christians by 2040. Volitich said, “it’s just so perplexing watching the world’s strange embracing of Islam while still stubbornly denying the reality of that ideology.”

The podcast host also often expressed seemingly racist and Islamophobic views on Twitter. In October 2017, the social media platform suspended her account after she suggested that terror attacks would continue unless Muslims are “eradicate[d] … from the face of the earth.” After her account was reinstated, Volitich—as Dalichov—wrote, “Apologize for my absence. Twitter confined me in Twitter jail for the second time this week for educating people on the horrors of Islam.” In other tweets, she asserted that “systemic racism and white privilege aren’t real” and complained about having to read an education training textbook on “confronting racism in the classroom.” She also tweeted, “It isn’t supremacist or hateful to prefer your own people over others.”

The HuffPost investigation, published on March 3, 2018, connected the online Tiana Dalichov pseudonym with Volitich, after comparing details like age and place of residence. Dalichov had also mentioned starting work at a middle school in 2016, which the Citrus County School District confirmed was when Volitich began working at Crystal River. The reporters were also able to match Dalichov’s Twitter photo to the one that appeared on her middle school’s public website. Finally, as HuffPost pointed out, the names Tiana Dalichov and Dayanna Volitich are near anagrams of each other.


School district investigation opened, Volitich removed from classroom

Following the HuffPost inquiry, the Citrus County School District opened its own investigation into Volitich, saying that she “does not speak on behalf of the Citrus County School District” and that her views are “really not in line with how our district operates.” On March 4, 2018, the day after the revelations in HuffPost, the school district announced it would remove Volitich from the classroom in accordance with the human resources investigation. The statement called the podcast “concerning.”

According to the Citrus County Chronicle, the investigative file revealed that school board officials had found probable cause to discipline Volitich, but not for her speech. Instead, the investigation, which was made public April 20, focused on whether Volitich had violated “professional practices by being deceptive in changing her teaching practices when administration enters her classroom and by encouraging her students to go along with the deception.” However, interviews with students revealed that Volitich had discussed her political views, with one student remarking that the teacher had said the Ku Klux Klan was “a good thing,” that immigration should be shut down, and that schools should reinstate segregation. Another student recalled a lesson in which Volitich used a student of color to explain slavery.

It is unclear what sanctions Volitich might have faced, given that she resigned before the investigation had concluded. But she may still suffer repercussions for her conduct, as a review of the case is underway, reported the Chronicle.

“Unapologetic” deleted, Volitich resigns

After the school investigation was opened, Dalichov tweeted that she would be “going away for a while” and proceeded to make her Twitter account private, meaning only those she approves may follow it and view her tweets. Her podcast website was subsequently deleted, though some media outlets downloaded episodes and published them online. Soon thereafter, Volitich released a statement through her lawyer, saying that her podcast had employed “political satire and exaggeration.” She denied being a white nationalist or white supremacist.

She submitted her resignation to the Citrus County School District on April 2, 2018, and the school board accepted it eight days later, WTSP reported.

External References

“Exclusive: Florida Public School Teacher Has A White Nationalist Podcast,” HuffPost

“Dayanna Volitich aka Tiana Dalichov: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Heavy

“Florida Teacher Who Hosted Far-Right Podcast Encouraging White Nationalists To Infiltrate Schools Resigns,” Newsweek

“‘Unapologetic’ White Nationalist Podcast Host and Middle School Teacher Resigns,” The Root

“Citrus Co. School District removes teacher over alleged racist podcast,”

“Teacher who ran white supremacist podcast she said was satire submits resignation,” CNN

“School board accepts resignation of Citrus Co. teacher accused of racist podcast,”

“New estimates show U.S. Muslim population continues to grow,” Pew Research Center

Prepared by Jesus Rodriguez ‘19

Uploaded May 21, 2018


Free Speech on Campus graphic

High school teacher fired after calling US military “lowest of the low” – January 26, 2018

Pico Rivera, CA

Gregory Salcido, a high school teacher and City Council member in Pico Rivera, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, was fired by his school and asked to resign from the Council after a student recorded him calling people in the military the “lowest of the low.” Salcido has since appealed the El Ranchero School Board’s decision to fire him and has refused to resign from the City Council.

Key Player

Gregory Salcido was a history and government teacher at El Ranchero High School, when he was fired after a student recorded him making disparaging comments about the US military. He has served on the Pico Rivera City Council for 20 years, though he has now been stripped of committee assignments and is currently the subject of a recall effort. He is also a former mayor of the city, serving in that position for three one-year terms in 2002, 2010, and 2015. The Pico Rivera City Council members choose the mayor and mayor pro tempore each year from among their ranks.

Further Details

Salcido was filmed criticizing people in the military after one of his students wore a United States Marines sweatshirt to class on January 26, 2018, reported the Whittier Daily News. In the video, the teacher can be heard repeatedly referring to members of the military as “dumb,” in addition to saying that “they’re the frickin’ lowest of the low” who “have no other options.” His rant included expletives and racial stereotypes, according to The Washington Post. He said the military was losing to “dudes wearing freaking robes and chanclas [flip-flops] in Iraq and Afghanistan … The data is in, we don’t have a good military … We couldn’t beat the Vietnamese. They’re a bunch of people this freaking big throwing rice.” The Post reported that Salcido said he and his family received death threats after the video circulated in January. The student who made the video and wore the sweatshirt that prompted Salcido’s remarks is Victor Quinonez, who has largely stayed out of the public spotlight. CBS Los Angeles said that his attorney urged the community to let Salcido have due process.

CBS reported that after the video surfaced and circulated on Facebook, protesters challenged Salcido at a February 13 city council meeting and called on him to resign. Many of the protesters were veterans or had family in the military. During the meeting, Salcido attempted to explain why he had made the comments in question, saying that his ultimate goal was to get his students to go to college, and saying that he doesn’t “want [his students] to work at a fast food restaurant either.” The council passed a resolution stripping Salcido of his committee assignments, and also called on him to resign. Salcido voted against the resolution, and indicated that he had no intention of resigning.

The Daily News reported that the El Ranchero Unified School Board voted in a closed session to fire Salcido during a March 20 board meeting, after hearing public comment from resident John Albitre and Pico Rivera City Councilman Bob Archuleta. Albitre reportedly said that he would also try to get Salcido stripped of his teaching credentials.

The school’s superintendent said that the district had done “a thorough investigation that covered many, many areas” before deciding to fire Salcido. The school board released the findings of its investigation, revealing that Salcido had been disciplined before for using corporal punishment, had kept and deleted pornographic images from his work computer, and had faced repeated accusations of bullying and threatening his students.


Salcido appeals school board decision to fire him from teaching position at El Ranchero High School

Salcido has entered into what the Daily News described as a “quasi-judicial” process to appeal his March 20 firing by the El Ranchero school board. Throughout the appeals process, he will remain on unpaid leave with the district.

Recall effort underway to remove Salcido from Office

Raul Elias, a teacher at El Ranchero High School, secured approval from the city clerk’s office to begin a petition to recall Salcido from his position on the City Council, reported the Daily News. The petition requires the signatures of 20 percent of El Ranchero’s voters, 6,386 names in total, by August 21, 2018. If Elias successfully gathers enough signatures in the allotted time, and if the city clerk’s office can verify those signatures, the clerk will go to the Council to set up a recall election. On the same ballot, voters can choose whether or not to recall Salcido, and, if they do recall him, select his replacement from a list of candidates. If voters choose to recall Salcido and no other candidate is on the ballot, the City Council can appoint someone to serve out the remaining two years of his term.

External References

Pico Rivera councilman and El Rancho High teacher Gregory Salcido caught on video degrading military, Whittier Daily News

Video: El Rancho Unified fires Gregory Salcido, teacher under fire for in-class anti-military rant, Whittier Daily News

Fired teacher Gregory Salcido, heard disparaging military, has appealed El Rancho Unified’s decision, Whittier Daily News

With the details of the investigation of Pico Rivera teacher Gregory Salcido now divulged, what does it mean for his appeal?, Whittier Daily News

Anti-military teacher Gregory Salcido refusing to quit post as city councilman in L.A. suburb of Pico Rivera, CBS News

Councilman Who Made Anti-Military Remarks Refuses Calls To Resign, CBS Los Angeles

Recall attempt is on: Supporters cleared to collect signatures against Pico Rivera Councilman Gregory Salcido, Whittier Daily News

California teacher fired after calling U.S. troops ‘the lowest of our low,’ The Washington Post

Prepared by Gustav Honl-Stuenkel ‘20

Uploaded May 21, 2018

Free Speech on Campus graphic

Theater production canceled after complaints of “whitewashing,” racial stereotyping – November 2, 2017

Galesburg, IL

Theater faculty at Knox College canceled a school production of “The Good Person of Szechwan” after student protesters claimed the play employs negative stereotypes of Asian women, and accused the theater department of “whitewashing,” or casting white students to play characters who are people of color.

Key Players

Neil Blackadder is a theater professor at Knox College, located in the city of Galesburg in western Illinois. He announced in early 2017 that he would be directing “The Good Person of Szechwan” later that year. He reportedly had planned on updating the location of the play to a European setting. Sophomore Joel Willison criticized this decision, saying, “It’s a play that’s set in China. What Neil is doing, as far as I understand, is taking that and moving that to a Europe centralized setting. Which then makes sure all the characters could be white,” The Knox Student reported. Blackadder defended his decision by calling the location of the play “irrelevant,” and he disputed students’ claims that the theater department had whitewashed its productions. He told the Student, “If that’s happened, it’s only happened in extreme circumstances which is to say we couldn’t come up with any other way to do it, but I’m not sure that that’s happened.” Blackadder said the department tries to cast students of color in roles for people of color whenever possible.

Jayel Gant and Willa Coufal are both seniors at Knox College, and both women of color who felt uncomfortable with the play’s representation of Asian women. They organized an open forum on November 1, 2017, for students and faculty to discuss the contents of the play.

Further Details

“The Good Person of Szechwan,” written by German playwright Bertolt Brecht in 1941, is set in the Chinese city of Sichuan. It is a parable about love as a commodity, and follows Shen Teh, a sex worker who shelters a group of gods for a night and is rewarded with riches for her good deed. Afterward, she is driven to adopt a male alter-ego, Shui Ta, in order to muster the necessary ruthlessness to deal successfully with the business of her tobacco shop.

Coufal, a former student of Blackadder’s, told the Student that she was “uncomfortable” with the play, which she had studied in a foundational theater class two years previously. She said it depends on “historical depictions of asians on the stage,” and contains “stereotypes of Asian women that were being formulated and continue to affect women like me today.

Blackadder wondered why the students waited so long to raise their objections about the play, the Student reported. “[I]t’s been hard for me that this play we announced we were gonna do as long ago as last spring, April, there’s now been all this opposition to it in the last three days, and I’ve spent a lot of time preparing for the production,” he said. Gant and Coufal both acknowledged that a long period of time had passed between the announcement of the play and the forum. “We did a lot of growing this summer in terms of just learning to talk about social justice in the academic sense and in terms of being put in contact with faculty from other departments,” Coufal said. Both claimed there was precedent for their complaints about the theater department’s treatment of race. Gant pointed to the fact that white students were cast in non-white roles in a previous production of “Mosque Alert,” a contemporary play by Jamil Khoury.

The Student published an editorial in support of the decision to cancel the play. It read, in part, “Students of color have time and time again expressed their concerns about the department’s tendency to stereotype, tokenize and demean minority groups. This treatment of students must stop and can only be stopped by the professors taking the time to actively listen to their students.”

Peter Bailley, a spokesperson for Knox, told the Fix that the play had been canceled because of its “troublesome portrayals of women and individuals of Asian origin.” He also said campus leaders are “proud of the open dialog between our students and faculty, which addressed important issues and concerns that frame our faculty’s teaching.”

Elizabeth Carlin Metz, chair of the Knox theater department, told the Fix that she believed the cancellation needed to happen because “academia needs continually to be vigilant about the shifting nuances in addressing sensitive texts.” She continued, “We need to acknowledge privilege in all sectors and the inherent bias that ensues. And we all need to listen.” Rather than blaming the students for being intolerant, Metz told Inside Higher Ed that the faculty had missed “a teaching moment.”

Not everyone at Knox agreed with the decision to cancel the play, however. Emily Anderson, an associate professor of English, wrote a letter to the editor of the Student in which she argued, “There is plenty to criticize in Brecht’s plays, but we can’t criticize them if we haven’t seen them. There may have been plenty to criticize in this production of The Good Person of Szechwan, but as it will not be produced, we will be unable to criticize it.” She continued, “If the only people who can produce, cast, or perform in a play are those who share the social and cultural identities of its characters, every main-stage production will be some version of Death of a Salesman.”


Second play canceled later that term

In January 2018, a second play slated for production in the Knox theater department was canceled. This play, “Fix me, Jesus,” was to be directed by a student, senior Zak Metalskey. It is set in Dallas in the 1980s, and Metalsky told the Student he chose it because he thought it confronted social and political issues in a constructive way. However, a member of the cast thought her character was excessively racist, and quit the play because of it. This prompted a discussion between Metalsky and the rest of the cast and crew, many of whom also expressed their discomfort with the way “Fix me, Jesus” addresses race.. He made the decision to cancel the production.

Metalsky said he was disappointed, but he understood. He told the Student, “This wasn’t censorship of free speech. We had an honest dialogue where we could honestly hear everyone’s opinions on the matter. I think this somewhat relates to the ‘calling out nature’ that is on campuses. Calling out is a good thing. As people in an educational setting, we should want to be called out if we do something that is harmful to others. We should see being called out as an opportunity to reflect and change and do more good for the world.”

External References

Thoughts from the Embers: Winter term play and its execution are insensitive, The Knox Student

Upcoming theatre production cancelled, The Knox Student

College leaders defend decision to cancel play after students criticized it as ‘racist,’ The College Fix

Theater department cancels play because some whites might be cast as Asians, The College Fix

Letter to the Editor: Disappointment over cancellation of ‘The Good Person of Szechwan,’ The Knox Student

Knox College calls of Brecht play after complaints of racial insensitivity, Inside Higher Ed

Theatre cancels second play, The Knox Student

Prepared by Graham Piro, ‘18

Uploaded May 21, 2018

Free Speech on Campus graphic

Penn Law professor removed from teaching required courses after publishing op-ed – August 9, 2017

Philadelphia, PA

On August 9, 2017, Amy Wax, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, co-wrote and published in the Philadelphia Inquirer an opinion piece titled “Paying the price for breakdown of the country’s bourgeoisie culture.” The article, which calls the culture of “some working-class whites,” “inner-city blacks,” and “some Hispanic immigrants” unsuitable for a First World country, brought attention to Wax’s history of allegedly racist and classist opinions. After a video resurfaced in which she claimed African American students rarely graduate in the top half of their class, Penn Law announced Wax would no longer teach any required courses for first-year students.

Key Players

Amy Wax is the Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She has tenure at the university, and has been affiliated with Penn Law since 2001. She received a bachelor’s degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale in 1975, was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University, and earned a medical degree from Harvard in 1981 and a law degree from Columbia in 1987. She was a law professor at the University of Virginia before moving to Penn, and has argued 15 cases before the US Supreme Court.

Ted Ruger is dean of Penn Law, where he is also the Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law. His expertise includes health law, legislation, constitutional law, and food and drug regulation.

Paul Levy is a 1972 Penn Law graduate. He chaired the law school’s Board of Overseers from 2001 to 2007, and later resigned from that board and the university’s Board of Trustees after Wax was removed from teaching first-year classes.

Further Details

Wax’s opinions have sparked debate on multiple occasions. In 2005, she wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) called “Some Truths About Black Disadvantage,” in which she employs laws of reverse causation to argue that black people are responsible for overcoming the disadvantages that have resulted from centuries of racism. According to The Daily Pennsylvanian (DP), the op-ed received criticism from the Black Law Students Association when it was published.

The next year, Wax was criticized by colleagues for publicly supporting a study titled, “Ten Principles on Marriage and the Public Good.” The report itself was sponsored by an independent research center called the Witherspoon Institute. According to the DP, “The report links the decline of marriage to widening socioeconomic gaps.” The report also states “that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman—and that any other family structures only function to weaken traditional marriage.” While Wax claimed she did not support all of the ideas set forth in the document, she supported it as a valid and important opposition to the widely accepted view in academia.

In 2009, she published a book called Race, Wrongs and Remedies: Group Justice in the 21st Century. Throughout it, according to the Amazon synopsis, “She argues that effectively addressing today’s persistent racial disparities requires dispelling the confusion surrounding blacks’ own role in achieving equality.”

Wax was met with protest in 2013 when she gave a lecture at Middlebury College, called “Diverging Family Structure by Class and Race: Economic Hardship, Moral Deregulation or Something Else?” The lecture hall in which she spoke was filled beyond capacity, without even standing room remaining. She spoke for 40 minutes before engaging in a heated question-and-answer session. According to a Middlebury Campus article, “Wax presented aggregate data on diverging family values focusing on differences in birth rates of children born out of wedlock and overall marriage rates between whites and non-whites that she argues is caused by ‘differences in decision making style by class and race’ and post 1960s ‘moral deregulation.’”

Following publication of the Inquirer article in August 2017, Wax gave an interview to the DP in which she defended her sentiments. Wax espoused the view that “not all cultures are created equal. Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy,” and lamented the disintegration of the bourgeois culture that reigned in the mid-twentieth century. Wax told the DP, “I don’t shrink from the word, ‘superior’” when describing the value of what she calls Anglo-Protestant ideals. However, according to the DP, she insisted she was not suggesting the superiority of white people specifically, claiming, “Bourgeois values aren’t just for white people.”

After the publication of “Paying the price for breakdown of the country’s bourgeoisie culture,” Penn Law spokesperson Steven Barnes released a statement saying, “The views expressed in the article are those of the individual authors. They are not a statement of Penn Law’s values or institutional policies.” Thirty-three Penn Law professors also protested Wax’s views, publishing a guest column in the DP. Addressing their letter to the University of Pennsylvania community, they “categorically reject[ed] Wax’s claims.”

Amid the controversy over Wax’s op-ed on bourgeois culture, a video from September 2017 resurfaced and exacerbated the situation. In an interview with Brown University Professor Glenn Loury, Wax said, “Here’s a very inconvenient fact, Glenn: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely, in the top half. I can think of one or two students who scored in the top half of my required first-year course,” reported The Washington Post. The interview was titled “The Downside to Social Uplift.”

Dean Ted Ruger contradicted Wax’s claims in an email to the DP, confirming that, in fact, “Black students have graduated in the top of the class at Penn Law.” He also affirmed her right to speak her mind, while criticizing her decision to speak openly about her students’ performance in the classroom: “As a scholar she is free to advocate her views, no matter how dramatically those views diverge from our institutional ethos and our considered practices. As a teacher, however, she is not free to transgress the policy that student grades are confidential, or to use her access to those Penn Law students who are required to be in her class to further her scholarly ends without students’ permission.”

After receiving backlash from her op-ed about bourgeois culture, Wax penned another for the Wall Street Journal, titled “What Can’t Be Debated on Campus.” In it she expressed disappointment with what she perceives as a dearth of “civil discourse” and Free Speech on college campuses.


Wax will no longer teach required first year courses

Despite Wax’s claim in a WSJ op-ed that Ruger had asked her to take a leave of absence, spokesperson Barnes confirmed that her tenured position at the university is secure. He said she would be teaching again in the fall semester of 2018. However, Wax will no longer teach in the first-year curriculum, reported the DP. Instead she will teach a full course load of electives, while retaining her tenure and salary.

Penn trustee emeritus and law school overseer resigns

On April 6, Emeritus Trustee Paul Levy sent his three-page resignation letter to Penn President Amy Gutmann, with a copy to the DP. It says, in part, “Preventing Wax from teaching first-year students doesn’t right academic or social wrongs. Rather, you are suppressing what is crucial to the liberal educational project: open, robust and critical debate over differing views of important social issues.” By April 9, Levy was no longer listed as a member of Penn’s Board of Trustees or a member of the Penn Law Board of Overseers, the DP reported.

Wax awarded for academic courage

On April 12 in New York City, Wax was presented with the Peter Shaw Memorial Award for her academic courage and “remarkable service” by the National Association of Scholars (NAS), a conservative advocacy group that fights what it regards as liberal bias in academia. The award is typically given to a person who has demonstrated academic freedom through “exemplary writing on issues pertaining to higher education and American intellectual culture,” according to the NAS website. Peter Wood, president of NAS, told the DP that the criteria for the award were marginally changed to include academic courage. After being presented with the award, Wax gave a speech to about 100 listeners, who, the DP reported, were overwhelmingly positive in their reaction.

External References

After ‘disparaging comments on black students, Amy Wax barred from teaching first year course, The Daily Pennsylvanian

Awarded for ‘academic courage,” Amy Wax lambastes supposed lack of civil debate at Penn, The Daily Pennsylvanian

Guest Column by 33 Penn Law faculty members / Open Letter to the University of Pennsylvania community, The Daily Pennsylvanian

‘Not all cultures are created equal,’ says Penn law professor in Op-Ed, The Daily Pennsylvanian

Paying the price for breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Penn Law Professor who said black students are ‘rarely’ in top half of class loses teaching duties, The Washington Post

Penn prof. endorses controversial study, The Daily Pennsylvanian

Penn Professor removed from class for saying black students under perform,

Penn Trustee Emeritus resigns over University ‘treatment of Amy Wax’, The Daily Pennsylvanian

Paul Levy’s resignation letter

Some Truths About Black Disadvantage, The Wall Street Journal

Wax Lecture Stirs Controversy, The Middlebury Campus

Wax’s newest opinion piece has reignited a familiar debate at Penn Law, The Daily Pennsylvanian

What Can’t Be Debated on Campus, The Wall Street Journal

Amazon synopsis of Race, Wrongs, and Remedies

Prepared by Bridget McElroy ‘18

Uploaded May 15, 2018

Free Speech on Campus graphic

Right-wing writer arrested during speech at UConn – November 28, 2017

Storrs, CT

Conservative writer Lucian Wintrich was arrested after an altercation during a speech he was giving at the University of Connecticut (UConn) in November 2017. He followed and forcefully grabbed a woman after she snatched his papers from the speaker’s podium in the middle of a speech titled, “It’s OK to be White.”

Key Player

Lucian Wintrich is the White House correspondent for The Gateway Pundit, a far-right website that garners millions of monthly views. He is one of the first openly gay members of the White House Press Corps, and, at age 29, one of the youngest. Wintrich gained popularity during the 2016 presidential election with his #Twinks4Trump photo series of scantily dressed gays wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ caps. Previously, Wintrich was scheduled to speak at New York University (NYU) in February 2018, but the event was postponed due to security concerns. He eventually spoke to the NYU College Republicans in March.

Further Details

The UConn College Republicans Club invited Wintrich to speak on campus. His speech was to discuss identity politics and was scheduled for November 28, 2017. In the lead-up to the event, many of the posters advertising his visit were removed, reported CNN. In response to the vandalism, the College Republicans posted a message on Facebook, which read, “It is sad that our fellow students at UConn have to take down or modify Lucian Wintrich’s posters because they disagree with free speech and individualism. Don’t worry, we put more up!”

About 350 people attended the event, many of whom were there to protest it. Wintrich was interrupted frequently as he tried to speak. According to The Washington Post, people shouted things like “Go home, Nazi!” and “Black Lives Matter.”

Pandemonium ensued when a woman, later identified as Catherine Gregory, an adviser at nearby Quinebaug Valley Community College, approached the speaker’s podium and snatched a piece of paper from it. As she walked away, Wintrich followed her, pulled at her backpack, and grabbed her in an attempt to retrieve his papers. The police quickly restrained him and led him out of the room. Wintrich was put into custody and charged with misdemeanor breach of peace. He was released later the same evening on a $1,000 bond, reported CNN.

University spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said a UConn student, identified as Sean Miller, was arrested for allegedly breaking a window, and that someone threw a smoke bomb inside the building as the audience was dispersing. No injuries were reported in the chaos, she said.

UConn President Susan Herbst also commented on the events surrounding Wintrich’s appearance. Her statement read, “We live in a tense and angry time of deep political division. Our hope as educators is that creative leadership and intellectual energy can be an antidote to that sickness, especially on university campuses. Between the offensive remarks by the speaker who also appeared to aggressively grab an audience member and the reckless vandalism that followed, that was certainly not the case on our campus tonight.”

Herbst also announced that UConn would change its vetting process for campus speakers and attendees. The Hartford Courant reported that the university would begin to review guest lists and the backgrounds of potential speakers when students seek to reserve space, equipment, or “security resources” for events on campus.

Following the incident on November 28, Wintrich tweeted, “It’s really unfortunate that some of the kids at @UConn felt the need to be violent and disruptive during a speech that focused on how the leftist media is turning Americans against each other. Tonight proved my point.”


Charges against Wintrich dropped

According to the Post, the misdemeanor breach-of-peace charge against Wintrich was dropped in December 2017. The Courant reported that the state recognized that the incident occurred when he was attempting to regain the papers the woman had taken from the podium. He did not appear before a judge.

Charges brought against Gregory, eventually nolled

The Post reported that Gregory turned herself in as the paper snatcher in December 2017. Her attorney claimed she had grabbed Wintrich’s speech notes as an act of First Amendment-protected protest. Nevertheless, she was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal attempt to commit larceny in the sixth-degree, reported the Courant.

In January 2018, Gregory’s case was put into a status that would result in the charges being dropped after 13 months have passed. According to the Courant, she must remain off the UConn campus for a year and make a $500 donation to UConn’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

External References

Catherine Gregory, Charged With Trying to Swipe Lucian Wintrich’s Speech, Must Donate to UConn, Stay Off Campus, Hartford Courant

Protester who grabbed Lucian Wintrich’s ‘It’s OK to be white’ speech charged with theft, The Washington Post

Right-wing blogger arrested at “It’s OK to be white” speech at UConn, CNN

State Drops Case Against Lucian Wintrich, White House Correspondent For Gateway Pundit, In UConn Tussle, Hartford Courant

Quinebaug College Adviser Charged after Lucian Wintrich’s UConn Event, Hartford Courant

The Gateway Pundit’s web traffic, Public Document

Lucian Wintrich Speaks at NYU After Postponed Visit, Washington Square News

Prepared by Bridget McElroy ‘18

Uploaded May 14, 2018


Free Speech on Campus graphic

Joliet Junior College – November 28, 2017

Student prevented from distributing anti-capitalist flyers on campus

Joliet, IL

Campus police at Joliet Junior College stopped a student from handing out flyers critical of capitalism on November 28, 2017. They confiscated her materials and detained her for forty minutes on the grounds that she had not received permission to use the school’s Free Speech Zone. In return, she sued the school, with support from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

Key Players

Ivette Salazar is a nursing student at Joliet Junior College who was detained by campus police for distributing anti-capitalist literature in a Free Speech Zone. On January 11, 2018, her complaint alleging violation of her First Amendment rights was formally filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Joliet Junior College (JJC) is a public community college in Joliet, Illinois, located approximately 30 miles southwest of Chicago. JJC has designated Free Speech Zones, with strict regulations about how they can be used. Students can set up tables, run by two students each, so long as they remain behind a table or other divider when they are in the area. They must submit tabling requests five business days in advance through a reservation form, and any literature students distribute in the area must first receive the approval of JJC’s Office of Student Services and Activities.

Further Details

On November 28, 2017, Salazar noticed students from the conservative group Turning Point USA handing out anti-socialist flyers in JJC’s Free Speech Zone. Later that day, she returned to the area and began handing out her own pamphlets, which read “Shut Down Capitalism” and advertised an upcoming workshop on Marxism. She also left the flyers on public tables nearby and in a concourse connecting two campus buildings, reported the Chicago Tribune.

A campus police officer and janitor approached and stopped Salazar, telling her she did not have approval to distribute her flyers in the area, reported the Tribune. According to Salazar, the officer told her that given the “political climate of the country,” she “might start something on campus” if she distributed flyers on this topic. The students from Turning Point USA reportedly continued to hand out their literature as Salazar talked with the college employees. She said she was then accompanied to campus police headquarters, where police took her flyers and detained her for forty minutes.

When Salazar asked three officers about her freedom of speech, as they were questioning her about the incident, one of them allegedly responded, “To put it bluntly, you have freedom of speech but only if we approve it … If you want to go ahead and post your flyers and burn your crosses, you have to get it approved by [the Office of Student Services and Activities].” Salazar said that after being released she left campus, because she felt unnerved by the several officers she passed, whom she said seemed to be observing her.


College settles lawsuit, pays $30,000

The Joliet Patch reported that JJC settled the lawsuit on April 18, 2018, agreeing to pay $30,000 in damages to FIRE. The school also agreed to change its Free Speech Zone policies and to retrain its staff and campus police on the updated policies. An official statement from FIRE indicated that JJC has agreed to allow for free expression throughout the campus, provided that speech aligns with constitutional time, place, and manner regulations.

External References

Illinois college sued over ‘free speech zone’, Chicago Tribune.

Lawsuit: Joliet Junior College workers stopped student from distributing political flyers, Chicago Tribune.

Joliet Junior College – Stand Up for Free Speech Lawsuit, FIRE.

FIRE files lawsuit on behalf of Illinois student detained by police for ‘Shut Down Capitalism’ flyers, FIRE.

Verified Complaint to the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois.

Free Speech Lawsuit Costs Joliet Junior College $30,000, Joliet Patch.

VICTORY: Student detained for passing out political flyers settles lawsuit with Illinois College, FIRE.

Sen. Hatch introduces bill to end free speech zones on campuses, The Daily Universe.

Prepared by Gustav Honl-Stuenkel ‘20

Uploaded May 7, 2018

Free Speech on Campus graphic

University of Tampa – August 29, 2017

Adjunct sociology professor fired after tweeting Hurricane Harvey was “karma” for Trump supporters

Tampa, FL

On August 27, 2017, Kenneth Storey, then an adjunct professor at the University of Tampa, shared on Twitter that although he was not a believer in karma, he felt the people of Texas deserved Hurricane Harvey for voting President Donald Trump into office. His tweets were met with outrage, and two days later Storey was fired.

Key Players

Kenneth Storey is a native Floridian who publicly identifies as a liberal. He was a part-time, adjunct faculty member in the Sociology department at the University of Tampa (UT), a private university located in Tampa, Florida, from 2011 to 2017. Before this incident occurred, he was — and continues to be — a vocal and active individual on Twitter.

Further Details

Storey’s initial tweet on August 27 read: “I dont believe in karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesnt care about them.” He posted this in reference to Hurricane Harvey, which had just hit Houston and other areas of Texas and Louisiana. The Texas Tribune estimated that a minimum of 88 people died in the hurricane, and CNN reported that roughly 30,000 people were displaced after Harvey dumped 27 trillion gallons of water—in a record-breaking rainfall of 51 inches—on the state of Texas.

After his first tweet, Storey continued to elaborate. In response to someone who tweeted at him saying he should “rethink,” he tweeted, “Well, the good people there need to do more to stop the evil their state pushes. I’m only blaming those who support the GOP there.” When asked if he thought the same about Trump supporters in Florida, he responded, “Yep, those who voted for him here deserve it as well.”

Conservative websites Campus Reform and Turning Point USA picked up Storey’s tweets, and the professor was added to the “Professor Watchlist,” a website used to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom,” reported the Tampa Bay Times. Storey ultimately deleted the entire Twitter thread, as well as his profile picture.

He apologized a day later, writing: “I deeply regret a statement I posted yesterday. I never meant to wish ill will upon any group. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly.” In a statement to ABC News, Storey explained that he “was referring to the GOP denial of climate change science and push to decrease funds from agencies that can help in a time like this. . . . I also hope this helps the GOP realize the need to support climate change research and put in place better funding for agencies like NOAA and FEMA.”


University fires adjunct professor for tweets

UT’s faculty handbook follows guidelines from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which state that “[professors] should be free from institutional censorship or discipline” when speaking in their capacities as independent individuals. A school should only discipline a professor, AAUP says, “if [there are] grave doubts concerning the teacher’s fitness” to teach.

The university asserted in a separate statement to ABC News that Storey’s comments were not representative of its views, since he did not make them in his capacity as a faculty member. Yet on August 29, 2017, UT announced it had fired the adjunct professor, writing, “We condemn the comments and the sentiment behind them, and understand the pain this irresponsible act has caused. Storey has been relieved of his duties at UT.”

Ari Cohn, an attorney at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), told the Tampa Bay Times the university had “caved” to pressure from online “outrage mobs.”

Faculty member forced to leave home due to threats

Storey spoke with reporters on the day his firing was announced and told them he was in hiding because he feared for his life. He said, “I’ve received numerous death threats. Right now, I am not at home because of threats, that do look credible, of people that identify as white supremacists who stated they are ‘coming down from Georgia to kill me.’”

External Resources

Kenneth Storey’s Rate my Professors Page

Prof Suggests Texans Deserve Hurricane for Supporting Trump, Campus Reform

Under Fire, These Professors were Criticized by their Colleges, The Chronicle of Higher Education

University of Tampa Statement

UT Fires Teacher whose Tweet Blamed Harvey on Texas GOP Vote, Tampa Bay Times

UT Professor Speaks Out After He Was Fired for Tweeting Harvey was ‘Karma’ for Trump Voters, ABC Action News

State says Harvey’s death toll has reached 88, The Texas Tribune

Harvey’s devastating impact by the numbers, CNN

Prepared by Emma Vahey ‘20

Uploaded April 30, 2017