Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Speech rights, off-campus discipline

A recent Huffington Post article reporting on a University of Kansas student’s harassing tweets has raised questions about how it would be handled on the Plattsburgh State campus.

Navid Yeasin has been expelled from Kansas Univ. for two and a half years after tweeting comments about an ex-girlfriend that the school deemed a threat. Yeasin has a no contact order between him and his ex.

The tweets in question couldn’t be found, but the Huffington Post noted that he referred to her as a “psycho” and “crazy-ass ex.” The problem was that he never actually used her Twitter handle in the tweets. He was speaking indirectly about her.

Director of Student Conduct Larry Allen felt that the article left out a lot of detail, so it was difficult for him to make a full judgment on the student’s actions.

Allen said being that the altercation took place in a different state, there might be different rules than in New York.

“It only lists two quoted tweets that would be up for interpretation in regards to them being ‘genuinely violent or threatening behavior’ profane insults about a former girlfriend,” Allen said.

Allen explained what his office would do in a case that relates to concerns of freedom of speech or expression that could violate college police. He would confer with PUSC’s legal counsel to make sure they act appropriately.

In order to take action, Allen said they would have to decide based on a preponderance of evidence that may or may not have been presented in this article.

“What I would say is if a violation reaches the threshold of a misdemeanor or felony then that is something we as a college can pursue,” said Allen.
Allen said that if they were to pursue action, it would be within a student or employee’s due process.

Psychology major Dana Bowers said, “It’s hard to tell without the actual full tweet. It doesn’t really seem like he would do anything that would cause her harm. He’s just venting. It wasn’t directed at her or anyone in particular. The school shouldn’t weave their way into his home life.”

She felt that students should be allowed to say whatever they want unless it’s a direct threat to other people’s lives.

Education major Melanie Sidoti said she could see where the girl is coming from. However, she felt that he could use the defense that it was about another ex. Things like this Melanie said are “inevitable on twitter. It’s like a diary.”

“Personally I’ve talked about people on Twitter. Everyone knows who it’s about, but they rarely tag someone in it. It’s a whole different story when the names are on there,” Sidoti said.

Sidoti said she would be checking Yeasin’s social media if she were his girlfriend because she would expect him to tweet about her. She also felt that they should scroll through the ex-girlfriend’s twitter to see if she posted anything indirectly about her ex.

Global supply chain management and marketing majors Emily DeFrancesco felt that it wasn’t harmful because Yeasin wasn’t physically or verbally harming his ex-girlfriend.

“Everyone has a right to say how they feel. It wasn’t like her name was in it. It was vague,” she said.

“If it’s such a big problem, you can remove yourself from the situation. You could block him on twitter, or delete your own twitter. She could even have all her friends block him,” said DeFrancesco.

Email Patrick Willisch at patrick.willisch@cardinalpointsonline.com

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