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School Power Over Student Web Speech?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the first-amendment-vs-private-institutions dept.

Privacy 369

Petey_Alchemist asks: "In the wake of the Pope John XIII student weblogging ban, the online lives of students are once again being examined by their academic institutions. News outlets are covering a series of recent events--most notably the expulsion of a Fisher College sophomore (who also happened to be President of the Student Government) after he posted in a 'controversial' Facebook group. Facebook, for those of you who don't know, is an incredibly popular social networking site for American college students. The fact that you must have a college email account to join provides some modicum (re: illusion) of privacy, but doesn't keep faculty or administrative members from joining and patrolling the website. Bottom line: Facebook, Pope John XIII, and other online student speech cases are popping up all over the place yet no case defining the amount of control a school has over a student based on that student's web speech has come before the Supreme Court. When will this happen? Moreover, what will be the result when it finally does?"

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985364)

first post!

AWESOME-O SAYS: "LAAAAME." (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985388)

Come on, man. Can't you think of something better than that?

Re:FP (1)

jzeejunk (878194) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985455)

It must have been students like you because of whom the blogs were taken down.

JEWS DID WTC (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985584)

and Muslims did France. GO RELIGION!

They just don't... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985369)

The administrators just don't want students blogging about the steamy sex lives they never had. It's jealously, plain and simple.

Frantic, hot, recursive wget'd jealousy.

Free Speech (4, Insightful)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985713)

As another poster metioned, so far these are all private schools. That means that the parents are paying a LOT of money for little Johnnie or Suzie to attend. Surely if the parents are unhappy, they will put their child in another school. My thought is that the dollars will win out. I do wish though, that the ACLU would make itself useful and take some of the to the Supreme Court.

2 cents,

Queen B

Re:They just don't... (2, Funny)

SillySnake (727102) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985734)

Speaking of Admin, where do I add the Pope to be one of my friends? Surely that'll make some extra H077 lady Hax0rz add me!

Wait a second, is this the same Pope? (0, Offtopic)

ejp (18891) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985375)

Is this the same Pope that thinks the Beatles are from hell? I'm so out of this Pope thing. Hmmm, the Pope, guy in Italy right? Ok, I have to do less computer time, and start reading things like the paper! :-)

When asked, (3, Funny)

AWhiteFlame (928642) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985376)

God was not available for comment, however.

Re:When asked, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985758)

Since when are jokes off topic? Get a life trollmods.

Re:When asked, (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985789)

Unfunny, irrelevant jokes are off topic.

state school (1)

ricochet81 (707864) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985378)

That's why I go to a state school.

Re:state school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985465)

as a private institution (or what ever form it is) they have the right to limit students rights as far as they want. just dont attend if you disagree with it that much. or get board of directors to change because you are a client of their institution and tell them they will not get your business other wise

Re:state school (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985610)

So A private institution can make blacks drink from seperate water fountains? Can they say, "No spics, please". Can they disallow women from the sciences?
You are either trolling, naive, or just plain fucking retarded. Re-read your post, and clarify.

Re:state school (1)

jrockway (229604) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985677)

I'm pretty sure that, yes, they can. Do they allow non-Catholics at Catholic school? No. And that's perfectly legal (remember "freedom to assemble peacefully"?).

Of course, all the things you mention are morally reprehensible, and I think people should avoid patronizing institutions that exercise their right to discriminate.

Re:state school (1)

KylePflug (898555) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985762)

Yes, actually, they usually do. Off-topic though it is, most religious schools are very welcoming toward non-religious students. Not all, obviously, but most.

Re:state school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985823)

You'd be wrong. It's the same way the fed prevents privately owned hotels and restaurants from discriminating against black folks: interferes with interstate commerce, therefore regulable by US Congress, and therefore Civil Rights Act applies. Universities are more entangled in interstate commerce than diners are.

Re:state school (3, Interesting)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985854)

Of course they allow non-Catholics at Catholic schools. What better way to add more sheep to the flock?

The brainwashing that goes on in those schools can be scary sometimes.

-Z

Re:state school (2, Insightful)

BVis (267028) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985689)

As long as they don't take money from the federal government, then "yes", "yes", and "yes".

The only reason some of them don't is that they don't want to get caught doing it and then suffer the consequences.

clarification (5, Insightful)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985895)

As a matter of fact, they can. In the United States, that is, and depending on what you mean by "private." The US Constitution generally bars government from violating any number of civil rights of individuals. But private individuals, or organizations of same, are generally free to discriminate any way they please, unless (and here's the catch) it can plausibly be defined as relating to interstate commerce, in which case Congress acquires the right to make law that intervenes.

Generally it would be a violation of the right to assemble for the government to put restrictions on how people can associate privately, and a violation of the right to free speech if government tried to interfere with people calling each other "spics" or any other term of opprobium they please, in a private setting.

Where you might have become confused is, first, by the fact that public organizations, e.g. public schools, transit agencies, et cetera, are bound by the same Constitutional rules as the government itself. And, furthermore, government is certainly within its rights to, as a matter of policy, deny public assistance to private organizations Congress finds objectionable, and Congress frequently does just that.

Finally, things like the Fair Housing Act prohibit discrimination in any activity that can plausibly (or even with a stretch) be defined as commercial. So it's not illegal, if you privately sell your home, to refuse to sell it to black people, but it is illegal if you are "in the business" of selling or renting -- and that is defined very broadly -- or if you use a broker, et cetera. This is all justified under the Constitution as relating to Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce.

So Congress has no power to ban the Ku Klux Klan, nor can it ban its meeting in private homes in which signs with racial epithets are posted, and the KKK can completely exclude blacks from membership, and if it runs a boarding house for its members it can exclude blacks from there, too. But the KKK is not likely to be granted tax-exempt status, and is not likely to receive permission to meet on public land, e.g. in a public school, and if it applies for a public grant to promote its activies I expect the application will be turned down.

Private universities are frequently "blackmailed" by the federal government into various policies considered in the public good, from allowing both sexes and all races to enroll (although this tends not to be applied against female-only or black-only colleges) to allowing military recruiters on campus. This works mostly because even private universities receive enormous chunks of their budget (like, 40% or so) from the federal government via grants of one kind or another.

Re:state school (3, Interesting)

jrockway (229604) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985487)

Agreed. But watch out for your computer center's AUP -- some schools (like mine) have been sued and lost for censoring their students, but they still refuse to update their AUP to be more realistic. UIC refused to agree that their policies were unreasonable, and made no offer to review them*, so I told them I no longer agreed to their policy and cancelled my accounts. They have been dragging their feet on this (since it's attracted the attention of other branches of the University), so my web page is still up :) Pity I haven't had time to detail my problems with their policy and put it up there.

* The policy-makers have their heads firmly lodged in their asses -- the excuse I always get is "our lawyers said this is OK". I guess their lawyers don't understand what a court ruling against them means.

If you care about your rights online, I suggest you do what I did -- cancel your account if the policy is unreasonable. You can get free e-mail anywhere these days. If their policy interferes with your classwork, be sure to let the University's higher-ups know about it. Schools have no right to tell their students what is and is not acceptable speech, especially schools funded entirely by the government!

Re:state school (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985779)

Agreed. But watch out for your computer center's AUP -- some schools (like mine) have been sued and lost for censoring their students, but they still refuse to update their AUP to be more realistic.

So do the American thing. Sue. Since they already lost once, failing to update their policies (after a reasonable time period) shows bad faith, along with clear disregard and contempt for the court's authority. Judges don't like that. In fact, they often bitchslap people/organizations for that.

Re:state school (1)

Petey_Alchemist (711672) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985493)

So do students as the University of Missouri. [themaneater.com]

MU officials are considering creating a task force to educate students about use of the Web site Facebook and to discipline students for profiles containing evidence of misconduct or illegal activity.

--Petey

Re:state school (1)

level_headed_midwest (888889) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985788)

Yeah, it's not a bad idea. I wonder if they too will get an office in Brady?

Re:state school (1)

Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985508)

I'm sure that's why.... *cough*grades and money*cough*

Re:state school (3, Insightful)

BVis (267028) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985821)

State institutions (at any level) are not required to allow free speech. This seems contradictory when you consider the First Amendment, and IMHO it is, but students still get punished for speaking their minds.

The most widespread example is student-run newspapers in high schools and colleges. Students are punished for taking positions in their writing that are critical of the institution, especially at the high school level. Students (and I know this from observing the situation myself at my high school) have been suspended for attempting to run editorials or stories that don't toe the party line. You could argue that they're using school funds, so why should the school print something critical of itself? Because being a state institution, the faculty (in theory) should be required to allow any speech, no matter how damaging or critical.

In practice, not so much. Courts have routinely decided in the schools' favor when these cases have gone to trial. The message this sends to the students is very disturbing (to me at least): Your rights end when you walk through the door. The (required by law) act of attending a public school (barring the home-schooled and those who attend charter schools) requires that the students surrender what IMHO is the most important civil right that American citizens enjoy.

Is it any wonder that these students have no respect for authority? Everyone acts so shocked when the students have total contempt for the school and everything it represents; they don't stop to think that they're teaching them one thing (Americans have lots of rights) but practicing another (You have no rights, shut up or you're getting suspended.)

Here's a free clue folks: Treat people with respect, and you'll get respect back. Don't treat them like second-class citizens and then wonder why nobody shows up for the pep rally.

Personal Experience (5, Interesting)

SeanMon (929653) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985412)

A student at the school I attend was recently expelled because she posted photos on a public webpage of herself drinking. The school found out about it (I think an IT guy was surfing and searched for my school name on a free photosharing site), and the girl was expelled.

The lesson: don't be stupid about what you post on publicly viewable websites, such as blogs. You never know who's going to read it.

Re:Personal Experience (2, Informative)

cytoman (792326) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985436)

She should fight this in court...AFAIK (and IANAL) the courts no longer allow digital photos as evidence because of the ease with which they can be manipulated.

Re:Personal Experience (2)

SeanMon (929653) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985484)

It's a private school, which doesn't have to follow strictly to first ammendment rights. The school also has a strict drugs/alcohol policy, and the student had already gotten in trouble previously with alcohol.

Re:Personal Experience (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985586)

Sure they have to.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


They have to follow first amendment righs at that school. Congress cannot make such laws there any more than they can anywhere else.

You probably misunderstood the first amendment.

Re:Personal Experience (1)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985622)

The 1st amendment limits the government. Private individuals and institutions are not the government. They cannot violate it any more than colorless green ideas can sleep furiously.

Re:Personal Experience (2, Informative)

koreaman (835838) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985661)

I'm well aware. That's my point. This school can do whatever they like with your free speech and they won't be violating the first amendment, which they of course are not allowed to do (not that they even have the ability, they're not congress.)

Re:Personal Experience (2, Informative)

Trigun (685027) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985628)

Congress did not make the law.

Re:Personal Experience (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985747)

I'm well aware. That's my point. This school can do whatever they like with your free speech and they won't be violating the first amendment, which they of course are not allowed to do (not that they even have the ability, they're not congress.)

(this is added to get past the "comment has already been posted" filter)

Both of you are right (1)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985660)

The school is not barring anyone's freedom of speech. That's the first thing to realize here. The student exercised the right.

However, the school, having set forth in its student handbook the rules of student conduct and the prescribed penalties, has the right to enforce the rules against the students who agreed to them upon admission to the school. The student has the right, too, to decide to leave the school if the rules are so ornery or the penalties so harsh that he cannot abide by them. In such a case, the student cannot be punished by the school for any act, because he is not a member of the organization any longer.

Governments cannot make such rules (though they do so frequently). Private organizations, whether a large school or just a couple of friends, can decide the rules of inclusion into the group. If, as you may read below in my other post, the government decides to take that right away from a group (in this case forcing the college to accept any student speech), then it is an erosion of the rights despite its possible positive effects.

Re:Both of you are right (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985700)

I'm well aware. That's my point. This school can do whatever they like with your free speech and they won't be violating the first amendment, which they of course are not allowed to do (not that they even have the ability, they're not congress.)

(this is added to get pats the "comment has already been posted" filter)

Re:Personal Experience (4, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985910)

No, she should fight this in court on the grounds that the school has no right to limit what she does off-campus, in her own free time, even if it's illegal (since it's the police's job to do that, not the school's). Moreover, she should fight it on the grounds that the school can't do that even if the student signed a contract saying that it can, because the right to do whatever you want in your free time can't be signed away in a contract.

Re:Personal Experience (2, Interesting)

CRC'99 (96526) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985574)

Ok - there are a number of issues here.

1) Was the student photographed drinking on school premises?
2) Was the student photographed drinking during school hours?
3) Was the school visible in any of these photos?

If not, then the school has no say at all in what said student does in their own personal time. This is like my company firing me for being in a pub brawl. Yeah, I probably shouldn't be in pub brawls, but it's none of the companies business what I do outside of work hours.

Re:Personal Experience (1)

CRC'99 (96526) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985603)

Oh, and where are the pics? :P

Re:Personal Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985666)

1) Was the student photographed drinking on school premises?
2) Was the student photographed drinking during school hours?
3) Was the school visible in any of these photos?


You forgot the most important question: was an underage student drinking alcohol? That's hard to prove from a picture. Even if the bottle/can is clearly alcohol, the contents might have been replaced with something else.

This isn't proof of anything.

Re:Personal Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985751)

Actually, many companies will fire you if you get in a brawl, since it gives the company a bad name if its employees behave like cavemen (yeah, good luck with 'the other guy started it'). I don't think it's unreasonable, either, at least in some types of companies.

Re:Personal Experience (1)

SeanMon (929653) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985796)

1: No
2: no
3: no,

and other students have been expelled/suspended before for drinking at parties. And, again, this is a private school.

IANAL, but I think that your company could fire you for brawling -- maybe it depends on whether you are arrested. You are a representative of your company though, on and off the job, so anything that you do in public is representative of your company (or school).

Or maybe.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985682)

you shouldn't be drinking when you're underage. What a concept.

Further points on the subject... (5, Insightful)

Petey_Alchemist (711672) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985414)

Preface: IANAL, but I played one for years in Mock Trial.

It's really quite interesting to see how much disciplinary latitude schools have. The trend that I discovered--after we actually tried a case in Mock Trial regarding an infraction of the student handbook--is that, generally speaking, a student handbook is the rule of law for a school (barring any outright infringements on students rights.)

Therefore, schools have quite a bit of latitude in terms of punishment if they have a "detrimental conduct" clause. I myself was disciplined essentially for posting critical comments of a fellow student on my own webpage, as I posted earlier. [slashdot.org]

What I find really interesting, though, is the role the Internet is going to play in our public lives from now on. I wrote an extensive post in the other thread, [slashdot.org] but to sum it up...well, if today's journalists are willing to scour through a high school yearbook of Samuel Alito in order to find hints about his political beliefs, is it so hard to believe that my generation (speaking as a college student) will find themselves hamstrung by acts of folly conducted on the Internet? It's quite easy to connect to my pyromaniac website [toydestruction.com] to porn and warez websites. Never mind my blog [peteyworld.com] , livejournal, slashdot and assorted forum accounts.

It's an electronic goldmine for the next generation of muck raking journalists to sort through--with ever more powerful search technology.

We'll become a generation where we have to admit--because we've seen the electronic evidence--that, for example, our next President was, as a teenager, a Green Day listening, Microsoft hating, MySpace blogging, whiny, self absorbed git.

Wait 'til that shock hits...maybe then people will really self-censor. Today, you've got expelled college students. Tomorrow...e-scandals?

--Petey

Absolutely (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985491)

Think of all the people who've made themselves essentially unhirable due to flame wars they started 15 years ago on Usenet. I don't hire anyone without a thorough Googling.

Re:Further points on the subject... (4, Funny)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985499)

We'll become a generation where we have to admit--because we've seen the electronic evidence--that, for example, our next President was, as a teenager, a Green Day listening, Microsoft hating, MySpace blogging, whiny, self absorbed git.

So basically you're saying that the next President will be better than the one we've got now?

Re:Further points on the subject... (2, Interesting)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985539)

What's truly amazing, however, is that students *aren't* punished severely for things such as rioting. After the Red Sox won the world series the local colleges has many riots with students flipping cars, fighting, etc. Very little happened to any of them. But *dare* to speak your mind and you get kicked out of school?

Re:Further points on the subject... (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985600)


We'll become a generation where we have to admit--because we've seen the electronic evidence--that, for example, our next President was, as a teenager, a Green Day listening, Microsoft hating, MySpace blogging, whiny, self absorbed git.


I'll take that over a former coke sniffing, alcohol abusing, draft dodging, duty shirking President.

Re:Further points on the subject... (1)

Petey_Alchemist (711672) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985690)

Right, but imagine if we had written and pictoral evidence of Bush doing all of those things, evidence even the most diehard Bush fan couldn't ignore.

Re:Further points on the subject... (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985933)

I'll take that over a former coke sniffing, alcohol abusing, draft dodging, duty shirking President.

In all fairness, most of that slur applies to our past two presidents. What I want is a president that knows how to do his job, preserves civil liberties, and doesn't give money to the rich at everybody else's expense.

Freedom of speech should previal (4, Insightful)

cytoman (792326) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985415)

No matter what the circumstances, no matter what the fora, and no matter what, I think that Freedom of Speech is to be protected. Any attempt at stifling it with whatever justification is the first step towards a slippery slope leading to authoritarian rule and erosion of all kinds of privacy and freedoms...albeit this could take many decades to actually happen.

If the erosion of freedoms starts now, I fear that by the time I die, the world will be much, much different from the heydays of the internet when everything was open and without restrictions...I fear that we will have a very strict and monitored society where your every move will be logged and your every thought will be scrutinized for compliance with the dominant peoples' satisfaction.

Re:Freedom of speech should previal (1)

the_unknown_soldier (675161) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985466)

your free speech is protected. Students at catholic schools are allowed to blog all they like. But that doesn't mean that private schools have to include all students. Leave the school - Then say what you want about it.

the kid suggested executing a police officer (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985765)

No matter what the circumstances, no matter what the fora, and no matter what, I think that Freedom of Speech is to be protected. Any attempt at stifling it with whatever justification is the first step towards a slippery slope leading to authoritarian rule and erosion of all kinds of privacy and freedoms...albeit this could take many decades to actually happen.

The kid suggested "eliminating"(executing) a campus police officer AND solicited others to attempt what can only be termed entrapment.

Furthermore, you don't have protections of freedom of speech with ANY organization except the government. I'm really tired of people claiming that they have "Freedom of Speech" every time they get in trouble for spouting whatever they feel like at work, or school, or on private property. EVEN FURTHER, those rights do not include liable, slander, or assault (ie, "I'm going to rape you with this baseball bat!" is not constitutionally protected speech) to name a few. There are CENTURIES of precedence on this issue.

If you RTFA: "Fisher College spokesman John McLaughlin said, ''Cameron Walker was found to be in violation of the Student Guide and Code of Conduct.""

THAT, boys and girls, is why he was expelled. It's not the fact that he had a web log (I refuse to call them blogs); it's that he threatened the life of a school employee. It's pretty fucking clear-cut to me, and I'm really tired of hearing a lot of whining about "oh, poor him". The guy did something completely unjustified and COMPLETELY stupid. He knew the consequences (especially since he was class/school president) of violating the school's code of conduct; it was a private school. His speech was not protected, and furthermore, is most likely criminal in nature.

Re:the kid suggested executing a police officer (1)

Ariane 6 (248505) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985822)

For God's sakes mod parent up! I so wish I hadn't squandered mine earler today. The kid was an idiot - case closed.

Let schools do whatever they want (2, Interesting)

jrockway (229604) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985420)

As far as I'm concerned, these schools can do whatever they want. So far, these are all private school that we're hearing about. They can do whatever they want, that's their right. As soon as it's a public school, though, then we have problems. When the government starts telling you what you can and can't say, that's infringing on your first amendment rights. The school would lose any case like this in a heartbeat.

But the solution to this problem is simple -- if you're a student at one of these pro-brainwashing schools, leave. Go somewhere where freedom and academic integrity are the core values -- not "do whatever we tell you to do". Because frankly, college is not about doing what you're told, it's about learning, exploring new ideas, and being Free. If these institutions that censor their students claim to care about education, they're lying. Let them brainwash their students, while those who can think for themselves go elsewhere. Capitalism saves the day again :)

Re:Let schools do whatever they want (1)

Petey_Alchemist (711672) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985481)

Not totally accurate. One of the links I posted above [themaneater.com] details that one of the colleges considering disciplinary action for students is the University of Missouri--a public school.

However, that's only for illegal activity. What are the parameters for prosecution for underage drinking. I mean, Facebook could be a goldmine for authorities.

I know teachers at my college [wm.edu] have spoken out against this practice. I wonder how far they'd go if it was their ass on the line, though...

--Petey

Re:Let schools do whatever they want (2, Interesting)

sabre86 (730704) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985770)

If they've got a police force, even if they are somehow private, they have governing powers and should be limitted by our legal restrictions on government -- Bill of Rights, other Amendments, etc. These limitations should apply to any body possessing the force of law -- if its got a police force, its got governing powers. I generally agree with you on the go somewhere else suggestion -- but what if you've spent three or four years there and thousands of dollars and you then find out that its a "pro-brainwashing" school.

Re:Let schools do whatever they want (1)

level_headed_midwest (888889) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985834)

Because frankly, college is not about doing what you're told, it's about learning, exploring new ideas, and being Free.

That might be nice and all, but all you'll get is a 0.8 GPA and kicked out of school. Sorry to say, but you still have to work while you're in college, unless perhaps you're a comm major...

Facebook (4, Informative)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985422)

Uhmm. Here, professors join the facebook and add their students as friends. They'll announce this behavior in class, and brag of their numbers. It's hardly a covert op.

Also, the facebook isn't a blog, it's a social networking service.

While we're at it, there isn't much that you could do in facebook that would be all that damaging. Naked pictures are banned... other than that, you could join a group with a controversial name, but there isn't much in that. I'm a member of "My name's Justin biotch." Lots of people are members of "I went to a public school, bitch." Not here, since most of the kids here are wealthy Ivy Leaguers, born with a silver spoon in their mouths, but, you know, whatever.

I worry more about what I say on Slashdot.

Re:Facebook (1)

Petey_Alchemist (711672) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985531)

I actually noted that it was a social networking service, if you read the summary.

I *am* an public [k12.nh.us] school [wm.edu] bitch through and through.

Naked pictures may be banned, but what about drug or alcohol related groups--or photos that show you indulging?

There isn't much in joining a group with a controversial name? Did you not RTFA? A Fisher College sophomore was expelled for essentially that!

As for what you say on Slashdot... [slashdot.org]

--Petey

Re:Facebook (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985633)

Yeah, I noted that... or should have. I was just trying to clarify the matter, but it didn't come through.

I grew up near W&M. I almost went there for my PhD. I'm at Cornell now. W&M is a pretty nifty place. I dated a girl there for a while. Rock on.

Re:Facebook (1)

Petey_Alchemist (711672) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985671)

One of my best buds from high school goes to Cornell for engineering. Have fun! It's very different from WM in all areas except for rigor of education. In both cases...well, "wicked hard" doesn't even begin to cover it.

Re:Facebook (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985736)

Very cool. Good luck with everything. Don't let school drive you up the wall!

Re:Facebook (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985849)

Amen to that, bro. (Although it does suck that we have to pay out-of-state tuition, eh?)

That said, it was interesting to see how many people instantly looked up the dude who was charged with rape [dogstreetjournal.com] as soon as the news got out. Needless to say, he deleted his account about a day later.

Facebook is certainly an interesting beast.

Oh, and I'm a member of the Facebook Group entitled "I'm Not offensive, You're Just a Pussy"

Supreme Court... Free Speech (5, Interesting)

panth0r (722550) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985432)

To be honest, I think this could happen very soon and I both think and hope that the Supreme Court will be on the side of free speech. Everyone in the United States has a right to free speech, but we also have consequences to bear for taking out freedom of speech too far, in public schools I imagine there will be fewer to no free speech restrictions. However, in private schools, I think they will put a harsh ban on violating their rules if they have any. I imagine that few (private) schools will actually enact AND progressively enforce these rules, but if they do, the punishment will be harsh, like suspension if the pupil does it twice, and expulsion for a third offense. Naturally, the first time will just be a nice "please take the site down NOW." This topic has me baffled, still, my personal belief is that everybody should have the right to free speech, especially when it's approiate, and bad-mouthing one's school (in many cases) is not only normal, it's almost expected for students at some schools, and if a school is so bad that more than 25% of the students express extreme dislike, I also think the school should re-evaluate its priorities.

Re:Supreme Court... Free Speech (3, Insightful)

Petey_Alchemist (711672) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985578)

But as ReformedExCon noted [slashdot.org] , this is not an issue of free speech--or rather, just an issue of free speech.

If a college has a defined code of conduct--or, in my school's case, an honor code--and there is photo evidence of the infraction online, than why can't that evidence be admissable? I mean, if you were a school admin and someone showed you a picture they snapped themselves of someone shooting up, you'd consider that to be good evidence, right? Why should that change just because it was posted on Facebook?

Certainly, some of the issue pertain to speech--but what if a student does something against the honor code, and defames the image of the school? Are the school's hands tied?

Unfortunately, it's not so simple as just free speech.

--Petey

Re:Supreme Court... Free Speech (2, Funny)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985898)

-and there is photo evidence of the infraction online, than why can't that evidence be admissable?
No [revelwood.org] reason [museumofhoaxes.com] at [iranian.com] all [wikimedia.org] .

Re:Supreme Court... Free Speech (3, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985797)

I see your point, but I disagree.

I'm not so sure that the "right of free speech" should be something that non-government agencies should be able to ignore. Our lives are dominated by interaction with "private" agencies- be it a private school you attend, or the company you work for, a store you shop at, or a website you post to. If free speech isn't protected at any of these places, then where IS it protected? Is the middle-lane of the state-owned freeway the only place I can express my opinion without fear of consequences?

Private agencies shouldn't be allowed to punish an individual for LEGAL acts that they simply don't like.

Of course, no one wants the government telling them what they have to put up with. And I agree with that completely, but maybe there's some room for compromise. Maybe.

Ho Hum (1)

mcSolution (873549) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985435)

Seems like schools are spending more time watching what students are doing online then watching them as they travel home at night on buses with all the crazies.

The end result: loss of freedom (3, Interesting)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985483)

The end result of all this is that private schools will become another government agency restricted by law from abridging free speech despite their non-public nature.

Free Speech is one of those things that is widely misunderstood. It is simply the ability to speak freely and without government interference. The government is restricted from barring you from exercising your right to speak.

That does not mean that you have that right everywhere. Your rights end, goes the phrase, where mine begin. Private property is one space where you are restricted in your speech. Public property, on the other hand, is where you ought to be unrestricted. Private sector entities (individuals, companies, and organizations) have the right to bar you from activities of the entity if they do not approve of your speech. This used to be an inherent right.

If we force private institutions to accept any and all free speech, despite the fact that it may injure, slander, or be antithetical to the institutions' charter, then we are in essence forcing them to act as a government agency, i.e. statute-restricted non-discriminatory agency. The institutions do not have the right to act as they deem appropriate, but must act in accord with governmental regulation.

Constitutional Amendments like the ERA were big steps in usurping the rights of private institutions. If we follow this line of thinking through, where schools ought to be prevented from punishing students who break school rules, then we can see that the end result is that schools and government move closer to each other and the value of private schooling is diminished.

Will it go that far? Hopefully not, and the school will realize what a mistake it is making. However, the odds are more likely that the growth of government will continue unabated and it will absorb all educational institutions as time goes by, piece by piece, right by right.

Re:The end result: loss of freedom (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985625)

I agree wholeheartedly and have nothing to add to that great piece.

I am, however, human; your sig and name intrigue my human nature. Out of burning curiosity, what was this secret past you speak of?

(OT, I know.)

Re:The end result: loss of freedom (1)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985693)

Sorry. It's irrelevant, uninteresting, and I probably should have chosen a better name.

Re:The end result: loss of freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985826)

Private school, constitutional amendments do not apply. Sorry, go directly back to 7th grade government class and do not collect $200.

Re:The end result: loss of freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985851)

Actually, constitutional amendments do apply. That is why all universities must have handicapped parking spaces and wheelchair-accessible buildings. It is why they are not allowed to discriminate against minorities and women.

Sounds like your 8th grade class just let out and it's computer lab time. Better get to work drawing squares with LOGO and stop trolling message boards.

Busybodies or is there something deeper here? (0, Flamebait)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985486)

Is it me or do these busybody administrators raise the level of comments from any other BS you read on the net to newsworthy by their own actions?

Freethinkers win, in the end (1)

rheotaxis (528103) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985498)

No matter what court rules which way, freethinkers will be able to prevail over the facists. Maybe not today, this year, or this decade, but eventually, more intelligent opinions will hold sway over the arbitrary views of authoritarian control freaks. Or so I hope. Am I too optimistic?

The 11'th commandment (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985504)

The student in this case absolutely forgot the 11'th commandment

11. "Cover thine own ass"

He didn't. He did it all out in the open. If he had kept his little conspiracy among "friends" and at least used an anonymous website instead of broadcasting his plan and name to all-and-sundry, then maybe his scheme might have succeeded. But in this case, he's learned a lesson. Don't Get Caught. If anonymity worked for the Federalist Papers, then it should have been good enough for him. Why he didn't use even an alias (because the website _required_ him to be a verified student), is beyond me.

About his scheme: If the university cop was truly harrassing students, there were _far better_ ways to nail the guy than enticing other students to "get arrested" for fun and profit.

--
BMO

What's the big deal? (1, Informative)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985511)

When these Future Bloggers of America get into the work environment, they will get smack down for hanging out their company's dirty laundry for public display as well. Free speech belongs to the person who owns the press and can afford a good attorney.

Links? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985592)

How many links do you want to put in an article?

a student just collected $117,500 (1)

alizard (107678) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985644)

Student gets $117,500 in website free speech case [usatoday.com]

OCEANPORT, N.J. (AP) A New Jersey school district will pay $117,500 to a student who was punished for creating a website that included critical statements about his middle school. The settlement of the lawsuit brought nearly two years ago follows a decision by a federal judge ruling that Oceanport school administrators violated Ryan Dwyer's free speech rights.

Details at the URL.

Hmm (1)

Apreche (239272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985646)

It's been my understanding that a private school can kick anyone out at any time for any reason as long as you can't prove it was discrimination of some sort. Has anyone heard something to the contrary?

sites that rate college teachers (3, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985647)

Here [reason.com] is an interesting article about a site called whototake.com, which was started by James, a student I know at Fullerton College, where I teach. It was a place for students to post online reviews of their professors. Of course, when students rated me highly, I considered it fair, and when they gave me bad ratings, I considered them extremely misguided :-) The sad thing is that James was forced to take down the site due to the threat of a lawsuit. I may have been unhappy with some of the things said about me, but I would never sink so low as to use the threat of a lawsuit against a young college student as a way of suppressing his right to free speech.

alcohol on facebook (1)

icleprechauns (660843) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985654)

At my university, several students got alcohol violations for having alcoholic beverages in their pictures on Facebook...

Re:alcohol on facebook (1)

level_headed_midwest (888889) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985863)

Thank God that I don't have anything like that on my profile. About the only people that would hold what's in there against me would be PETA because my picture is of me grilling a few particularly nice steaks out on the barbie.

Downhill (5, Interesting)

Psionicist (561330) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985694)

When I was young I thought USA was a really cool country. For whatever reason, probably because of pop culture export, USA seemed great and my own country (Sweden) boring. I remember a kid on my block was really into the marines, he had a US flag above his bed. He knew lots of presidents, pretty good for someone not native to the country.

Then I grew older. I realized no country is inherently cool, when you look at the society and politics and not just action movies. USA seemed reasonable though, I remember a history (or geography) lesson in elementary school when a teacher described the basic ideas of the constitution, and the emigration from Sweden->America in the previous centuries. Inspiring.

Fast forward til now. Do I awe you? No, because in my opinion (which will be modded down really freaking fast), your country is going downhill. You are teaching religion as science, I don't even think fundamentalist muslims do that. Then you sort-of ban freedom of speech by forbidding blogging, of all stupid things to ban (whatever happened to land of the free?), introduce laws like DMCA, and are actively trying to destroy the whole worlds intellectual property laws.

Think about it.

Regards,
Swedish citizen.

Re:Downhill (1)

RembrandtX (240864) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985815)

Trust me .. its not all of us over here .. some of us fight it tooth and nail.
You just can't help folks who don't want to be helped. Everyone gets the impression that these fringe groups are the mass majority, this is untrue, they are just a motivated and very VOCAL minority, who just has to shout louder than the larger percentage of normal folks, who are more often occupied with the massive amount of work that it takes to just survive in a free market economy. After all - who cares what happens in Kansas schools when your making minimum wage and working two jobs to feed your kids.

Re:Downhill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985853)

Well. . . Sweden is cold and I don't much like fish either, so there. Also, Ikea furniture is made of crappy materials, and their meatballs aren't any good. And Swedish girls aren't hot. . . ok, nevermind, I guess you're right.

An American Citizen

I just do not believe it!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985697)

Guys:

I do not believe it. I just do not believe it, and if it is true the students at that University are getting exactly what they deserve. Every damn one of them has a yellow streak a foot wide down their back. The administration can say what they like, but expulsion or sanctions over a free speech item is just not an option. Where are the protests, where are the sit-ins where you roast hot dogs on a fire started in the school President's wastebasket (it better be a metal one). The real power in a University lies in the student body, NOT the administration.

Tom
Class of '65
University of California, Berkeley

Sorry, you're wrong, hippy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985750)

The real power in a University lies in the hands of the police officers who come at the beck and call of the administration to remove the expelled trespassers and vandals from the campus. Sometimes it goes peacefully, sometimes with beatings, and as you may recall, sometimes with bullets.

this is college (1)

ShaneThePain (929627) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985732)

They can treat you like a child in High School. But this is College, and these are adults, why not start treating them like such? Even High schools are to restrictive.

Re:this is college (1)

varmittang (849469) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985845)

Most Colleges wont let students have tosters in their dorm room, because it is an easy way for a student to set the building on fire. I had to evacuate my dorm due to a flaming bagel once my softmore year. Worst part was the fact it was raining that day.

Brings back bad memories... (-1, Flamebait)

shanen (462549) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985753)

The bad memories it brings back are of Germany and Japan in the 1930s. The "authorities" were increasingly eager to crack down on disobedient and insolent youths.

Of course I think the real problem is that young people tend to be very idealistic, and their natural idealism often conflicts with the very hardened realism of the "authorities". Dick Cheney and the following nine Senators leap to mind:

  1. Wayne Allard, Colorado
  2. Kit Bond, Missouri
  3. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma
  4. Thad Cochran, Mississippi
  5. John Cornyn, Texas
  6. James Inhofe, Oklahoma
  7. Pat Roberts, Kansas
  8. Jeff Sessions, Alabama
  9. Ted Stevens, Alaska

I wonder if any students will get in trouble if they try to organize any letter-writing campaigns against these characters. These are the nine who voted against McCain's anti-torture amendment. It was 91-9 against torture in America's name. (I may not be so young, but I'm still idealistic enough to be disgusted by these people.)

Never. (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985754)

"...yet no case defining the amount of control a school has over a student based on that student's web speech has come before the Supreme Court."

That is because, in the vast majority of these cases, the schools involved are private, not public, institutions, and thus they are completely free to limit student speech as they see fit.

Google Search (1)

buckhead_buddy (186384) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985775)

I was looking for an email address for the Fisher College Dean of Students, but was only able to find a snail mail address.
Dr. Bonie Bagchi Williamson, Vice President
Co-curricular Life and Dean of Students
Fisher College
118 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02116
Actually, I think a written letter letting the Dean see that the scope and "bad press" of her action stretches far beyond Massachusetts would be better than a five emails expressing the same sentiment. I'm not familiar with this situation beyond the Globe's coverage but it's quite easy for positions in academia to be corrupted by their little circles of power and I think more than a few Dean's should be reminded that their little campus scuffles really effect people's lives for years.

But if anyone has an email address, I'd love to have it too :-)

Re:Google Search (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985864)

Don't worry. I've been using her email address when I sign up for spam supported junk for years!

(just kidding)

Duquesne University sanction will backfire. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985818)

From one of the articles quoted: [worldnetdaily.com]

After an investigation, the Judicial Affairs office decided to take action against Miner and, in an Oct. 13 hearing, found him guilty of violating university policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation." As "punishment" - a term university officials say they don't like to use - Miner must write a 10-page essay in which he is required to research and explain the Roman Catholic church's position on gays and lesbians.

Now that's going to backfire, big-time. Because official Vatican doctrinal documents [vatican.va] are much closer to the student's position than what Duquesne University is putting out.

The Catholic Church is having a doctrinal crackdown [shu.edu] on this. No more "diversity". The Apostolic Visitation (what used to called the Grand Inquisition) of US seminaries by Vatican personnel is underway right now. Some faculty members have already been canned for deviations from church doctrine.

Free speech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985852)

First, I work in a public school. While we don't have a written policy on such things (currently anyway) in the incidents we have had - students posting then viewing from school, we simply block the website for school computers. Let 'em write what they want, let 'em read what they want. Just not from school. The incidents we have had have caused problems at school. Bullying, harassment, etc.. which ARE school problems and will be handled as such. Some have received counseling, disciplinary action etc.. as the situation warrants. Bottom line is that any thing posted to a public forum can and will be read. A threat to anyone is still a threat, it doesn't matter if it is posted online somewhere or spoken on school grounds or at the local hangout. Not everything can stop at the door of the school. IE underage drinking, drug use, etc.. why should online comments be any different?

To answer your basic question (1)

max born (739948) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985875)

Bottom line: Facebook, Pope John XIII, and other online student speech cases are popping up all over the place yet no case defining the amount of control a school has over a student based on that student's web speech has come before the Supreme Court. When will this happen? Moreover, what will be the result when it finally does?"

Any court, let alone the Supreme Court is unlikely to want to hear such a case. Isn't this is a matter of non government private contracts? When you enroll with the school you agree to abide by their rules, no matter how absurd. What could the court do? These kind of contracts have existed forever for all kinds of clubs, organizations, societies, etc.. As long as the contract doesn't violate the law itself (e.g. discriminate on the basis of race or sex) there's really nothing you can do short of telling them to fuck off and finding another school that's more sympathetic to your blogging activities.

rise of the new regime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985915)

facism, that's what.
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