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Student Expelled For Facebook Photo Description

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the what-is-this-privacy-of-which-you-speak dept.

Censorship 415

flutterecho writes "A sophomore at Valdosta State University was expelled after criticizing his university's plan to build two new parking garages with student fees. In a letter apparently slipped under his dorm room door, Ronald Zaccari, the university's president, wrote that he 'present[ed] a clear and present danger to this campus' and referred to an image on the student's Facebook page which contained a threatening description. 'As additional evidence of the threat posed by Barnes, the document referred to a link he posted to his Facebook profile whose accompanying graphic read: "Shoot it. Upload it. Get famous. Project Spotlight is searching for the next big thing. Are you it?" It doesn't mention that Project Spotlight was an online digital video contest and that "shoot" in that context meant "record."' In a post-Virginia Tech world, has university surveillance of online identities gone too far?"

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VTech just kicked in, yo! (4, Informative)

soupforare (542403) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024224)

The best part is that I'm sure he has absolutely no recourse because they're free to expel any student at any time per the handbook.

Re:VTech just kicked in, yo! (5, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024246)

Perhaps the court of public opinion can lend a hand.

Well... (4, Funny)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024838)

This is not "online surveillance going too far". It's "Some universities employ complete morons who can't even read. This hazs serious consequenes, such as students expelled for non-reasons."

Why is that news? Maybe sections with a counter in each, such as "$UNIVERSITY expels $STUDENT for reason $STUPID" would do it, with an index that links to each relevant article. Good idea for a web 2.0 news site, that.

Re:VTech just kicked in, yo! (4, Insightful)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024328)

Nah, given the circumstances, he'd be able to file a lawsuit, and be taken seriously enough for the college to settle out of court. It should be pretty simple to factor in reinstatement to the college (or enough $$$ in damages that he'll be able to comfortably finish up at another college without taking out student loans).

Re:VTech just kicked in, yo! (5, Funny)

Sique (173459) | more than 6 years ago | (#22025220)

He should even get them for false advertising. They surely mention good English courses somewhere in their advertisement material, and they weren't even able to read "shoot it" correctly in the context of photography.

Re:VTech just kicked in, yo! (5, Interesting)

Mike89 (1006497) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024528)

Sorry to comment jack, but this happened to me too. Well, similar - I wrote a blog showing my annoyance at the school, primarily for the pathetic toilet facilities (which cost like $180, 000 to upgrade, with no improvement..), and that the disabled parking spot was turned into a Principal's parking spot.. I was called in two days later, told to clear out my locker and not come back. This was a month and a half before my final exams - which I was told I could sit elsewhere. (This is in Australia, by the way).

In a post-Virginia Tech world...? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024232)

Katz, is that you?

What a turd! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024268)

The president has since announced his retirement, six months earlier than expected.

This asshole needs dealing with.

Re:What a turd! (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024990)

Oh yeah? And who will "deal with him", nerdinho? You? Give me a break. He'll slap you on the face and you will go home crying.

Maybe, maybe not (5, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024272)

I'm guessing that the student handbook disclaimer of "expel at will" could be dented by good legal representation.

Lawsuit waiting to happen. I hope they've got a healthy endowment.

Like me.

(I'm sorry, I had to add that last bit. Yes, it's Sunday morning, but it was low-hanging fruit... Like mine. OK, I'll quit now.)

Re:Maybe, maybe not (5, Insightful)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024736)

It's likely to be reversed. It's a state school, so they have an additional legal obligation to not violate free speech and due process rules. Even with a private school, if they don't follow their written judicial procedures to the letter, they'll often lose. Schools like to tell students and their parents not to retain lawyers during internal judicial / discipline proceedings, saying it makes the process "adversarial". They're trying to kick you out or impose some other sanction. It's hard to imagine it getting any more adversarial than that.

Re:Maybe, maybe not (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024768)

It's a state school, so they have an additional legal obligation to not violate free speech and due process rules.

Geez Louie! Whadda ya want? They got a free speech area.

All he hadda do was apply for a reservation and he could
shoot his mouth off for the alloted period of time.

Sheesh! Kids these days. Thinkin' free speech means
you can say whatever ya want when ya want to.

Oh yeah... GET OFF MY LAWN!

Re:Maybe, maybe not (4, Insightful)

rjh (40933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024928)

It's a state university. That means they're bound by the Constitution and cannot expel students without affording them due process.

Had this been a private school, he would have had utterly no recourse: expulsion at will for any reason, even none at all, is one of the perks (if you're an administrator) of being at a private school.

Pertinent question (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024276)

was he a nigger? Mod me down if the answer is yes and you hate them!

Shoot! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024278)

Oh shoot! I missed first post...

Can you blame them? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024282)

We as a nation do not want no niggers goin crazy again up in those beotches.

Streisand effect (4, Interesting)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024288)

Ever heard of the Streisand effect [] ?

Re:Streisand effect (5, Interesting)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024412)

The Streisand effect is such a useful concept. I think there's a good chance that future generations will primarily know Babs herself via the eponymous linguistic device, rather than her artistic oeuvre. A kind of Metastreisand effect. Hooray.

Re:Streisand effect (5, Funny)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024430)

(In fact I believe only Robert Smith can prevent this....)

Re:Streisand effect (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024930)

(In fact I believe only Robert Smith can prevent this....)
But can he cure it?

Re:Streisand effect (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22025206)

It depends how clever her machinations are.

Re:Streisand effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024486)

Or Mecha-Streisand [] .

Re:Streisand effect over p2p (0, Offtopic)

Grampaw Willie (631616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024532)

if I was a betting man I'd wager that p2p networks will very shortly become a thing of the past

the reason being that these are used primarily for copyright violations

i just got a new ISP and I noticed when i read the Acceptable Use *policy* that they strongly discouraged p2p software

get over it kids, the party's over, RSN

Re:Streisand effect over p2p (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024760)

If I was a betting man, I'd take you for a lot of money.

Re:Streisand effect over p2p (1)

kdemetter (965669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024812)

Switch to a more user friendly ISP then. "This is how it works. Whatever you sink, we build back up. Whomever you sue, ten new pirates are recruited. Wherever you go, we are already ahead of you. You are the past and the forgotten, we are the internet and the future." -Brokep You should understand that P2P is not just something solid . It's an idea , and cannot be destroyed .

Granted, but "shoot" only has dual meanings (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024294)

in the non-nigger world, where photography exists and so do butterflies

Re:Granted, but "shoot" only has dual meanings (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024352)

in the non-nigger world [...]

You seriously need psychiatric help.

Re:Granted, but "shoot" only has dual meanings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024388)

You seriously need psychiatric help.

so do butterflies.

The ONLY way to prevent another Va. Tech (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024300)

ban all minorities from attending college.

especially niggers

We need a 'Project Spotlight 2' (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024310)

Putting a spotlight on the crimes of wild niggers.

Bad niggers! Bad!

Valdosta has bigger problems to worry about. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024324)

Valdosta has nigger problems to worry about.

Solidarity with this students (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024338)

Is there any mean by which we can support this student ?

I mean we, as geeks, should support that guy. Is there any university email adress we can complain to for firing this student on such a stupid basis ?


Re:Solidarity with this students (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024458)

so you need a cause to stand behind? why don't you lead it... look up the school and see what contact info you can find. then come back and post it. lead the revolution!!

Public University (4, Insightful)

mwilliamson (672411) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024342)

A public university is held to a different standard that a private institution in regards to being able to expel students for arbitrary and capricious reasons since public institutions are partially tax-funded. I wonder if the ACLU would like to step up to the plate on this one.

I sure the hell wouldn't want to be in any way affiliated with such an oppressive institution. After he wins his case and gets his money back, he should consider an institution that upholds certain concepts like freedom of speech and independent thinking.

Re:Public University (1, Funny)

memnock (466995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024664)

oh, so the student should probably go to school overseas? ;)

Re:Public University (1, Funny)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024940)

What are you retarded?

Take your Anti-US trolling somewhere else troll.

Re:Public University (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024748)

Then why do they have an obliviously, incredibly uneducated idiot as president? This man can not possibly have a college education if he can not discern the definition of the words. It actually sounds like the entire staff barely has the ability to read the English language, and they are the administration of a college???

Do they hire dropouts from the street for administration positions or do they simply seek out the stupidest people they can find? As it is incredibly obvious that this man is stupid, retarded, or lacking even a 3rd grade education.

This makes me question the value of college education credentials.

The return of Katz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024346)

In a post-Virginia Tech world

Banzaiii (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024354)

Luckily for him, he didn't write banzai anywhere in his profile.
Otherwise he would have shipped straight to guantanamo resort with all that evidence he is a suicide bomber.

don't believe anything you read in online profiles (4, Insightful)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024370)

How do they know the students were not the victims of identity theft? A fellow student who hated them could very well set up fake Facebook accounts, fill them up with nasty photos, with the purpose of letting them to be discovered by the campus security. Even if a profile is owned by the students themselves, there is again no reason that a photo is not some kind of fake used for fun or just incorrect information as an inside joke between participants.

No denial (3, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024540)

I don't know the case, but the most common reason to believe the information in this kind of cases is that the accused stand behind their words.

As the student in this case is politically active, he is probably much more likely to grab an opportunity to defend himself, rather than go for denial.

online identity (0, Troll)

Grampaw Willie (631616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024638)

How do they know the students were not the victims of identity theft?

that is an internet issue that will most likely soon be resolved.

lots of bad crap gets sent to the net every second. and this ain't good, from id theft, online fraud, phishing, bot-nets and spam, to web site philosophy

the resolution is simple: and that is to establish a Point of Control and that should be where the ISP obtains access to The Net. the ISP should be responsible for verifying the ID of its customers, and on presentation of a proper warrant, verify to authorities who posted what

ISP not in compliance would be disconnected and any country not requiring ISP to comply would be disconnected.

the concept of remote software updates also has to go into the garbage can so that we can get rid of RATS. We have to be rid of RATS so that sign-ons and activity can be properly verified and to do this everyone has a right to a CLEAN computer

Re:online identity (2, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024726)

I think what you're proposing already exists. It's called "China".

Re:online identity (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | more than 6 years ago | (#22025198)

So... what you're asking for is a central point of control, and if, for example, that said school's administrators run the central point of control, and don't like what you say, they can block everything you ever try to say online, for ever, and you won't be able to do anything about it?

Sure I'll buy in on that plan.

Airport security (5, Funny)

smaugy (50134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024372)

Steadicam operator to airport security personnel:

"We're here to shoot a pilot."

Hilarity ensues.

Re:Airport security (2, Interesting)

vodevil (856500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024666)

Maybe I'm missing something, but the "Shoot it, upload it, get famous" piece sounds more like an advertisement on the page. Why would they punish somebody for that?

Re:Airport security (5, Insightful)

rizzo420 (136707) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024882)

they're stretching... that's why.

the second i read that i knew what it meant (considering it was called "project spotlight"). if a university president can't understand that it means take a picture with a camera, then he probably doesn't deserve his position to begin with.

the president wanted to shut this kid up. gave the false notion that he would go to therapy and when approved be allowed back in. when the kid went through therapy with flying colors and didn't shut up about the parking garages, the president did a 180 and wouldn't allow the student back.

what the kid should really be looking into is the school's counselor who violated their professional obligation to not share information about their clients except in extenuating circumstances (such as the client admitting to murder). however, fearing for his/her job when the president met with him/her, i'm sure he/she just crumbled under pressure and said whatever the president wanted to hear.

Re:Airport security (3, Informative)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024688)

here in the UK employees are usually pretty well protected but some companies have a scummy arrangement where where all the employees are actually contracted from a small temping organisation that only serves that particular company. Thus, the company can "fire" whoever they want whenever they want by just going "we don't want to offer you any more shifts" and the person is SOL.

An incident I'll never forget is when someone was in front of me for an interview with company X, talking to the receptionist about why their swipecard didn't work. It turns out, they were talking to a taxman or something and gave thier job description as "packing in factory", i.e. putting things in boxes*. Now, here in the uk, to "pack something in" means to quit, so that could at a stretch be interpreted as "I'm going to quit my job".
The taxman happened to know the HR person at company X, called them up, said the guy was quitting, and they just wiped him off the system. The exchange with him went something like "we can't offer you any more shifts, you're unreliable" based on total BS. Because it was easier to hire someone else, they just told him to get lost! Needless, I decided that putting sandwiches in boxes wasn't a career that would benefit me and went on to become a reseach scientist instead.

* no, it wasn't a fudge factory, you sick bastard

Re:Airport security (1, Troll)

rock217 (802738) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024800)

Buddy of mine was headed home after Christmas this year, and I guess he brought some antique drinking glasses with him. The X-Rays were apparently inconclusive, and after repeatedly tripping the metal detector (I guess walking through the metal detector with the non X-Ray(able) item is the general TSA fallback procedure?) they finally had to call a TSA super to properly inspect the nefarious drinkware.

So as he's back at the metal detector just trying to get through the nightmare of holiday travel, he decides to give them a friendly piece of information:

I guess shouting "It's just leaded crystal!" sounds a lot like "It's just a loaded pistol!", what with all the background holiday commotion.

Sufficed to say my friend had a few automatic weapons pointed at him momentarily, but after the confusion was sorted out they let him through.

Here's a threat (5, Funny)

pdhenry (671887) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024374)

Well, if you RTFA, one could infer that referring to the garage as the Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage could be construed as threatening to university president Zaccari. It's wasn't just the Project Spotlight link.

Re:Here's a threat (2, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024410)

That's a very big stretch. That statement could be read in another, more likely and more innocuous way, that the president of the university wanted the garage named for him (I guess there weren't any other buildings left). It hardly seems to be a threat, and you would need counseling yourself if you started walking around with plain-clothed policemen because you thought that the collage was a threatening document. The threat was to this president's plan to build the garage, and so he just found a clever way to rid himself of that "problem."

Re:Here's a threat (0)

Speare (84249) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024894)

you thought that the collage was a threatening document
A threatening collage? You mean one of those ransom notes made from magazine clippings?

Re:Here's a threat (2, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024948)

Well, this may be of interest: At work one time, to two coworkers born ~1955, I jokingly referenced a "Bob Memorial Golf Course", where Bob was one of the two, the joke being that Bob would have a lot of money to fund those things. The both immediately assumed I was joking about Bob's death.

This suggests to me there's a generational difference in the connotation of "memorial".

Re:Here's a threat (4, Insightful)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024456)

Well, if you RTFA, one could infer that referring to the garage as the Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage could be construed as threatening to university president Zaccari. It's wasn't just the Project Spotlight link.
It could be. But it's more likely a reference to the fact that the University President was on his way to retire and was using funds from student fees to build the Parking Garage.

After all, "Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage" has a certain ironic ring to it. As if the University President really thinks that in a hundred years, he will be remembered for a parking garage. It's the sort of thing that if I were a student there and immersed in this issue when seeing that sign, I would probably laugh and think "what a fool Zaccari is."

When a communication has several plausible innocent meanings, it hardly presents the threat of a clear and present danger just because someone chose to take it out of context and give it the threatening meaning. Based on TFA, Zaccari pointed to a couple things from an online profile (one of which was a mere advertisement placed there by Facebook). Who among us could not be characterized in an unfair way similarly to the way this student was characterized?

Re:Here's a threat (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024770)

He won't be remembered FOR the garage, the garage is a reminder of his 'greatness'.

If you see a Jefferson Memorial High School, do you think that Jefferson is being remembered for that school? No, he's remembered for all the amazing things he accomplished while alive and the school was named after him to help remind people that he did them.

Re:Here's a threat (3, Interesting)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024494)

Well, if you RTFA, one could infer that referring to the garage as the Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage could be construed as threatening to university president Zaccari.
1. That's pretty weak.

2. If you really think someone is making death threats, you don't send them a letter expelling them ("that'll stop him killing me!"). You call the police.

It's pretty obvious that the university officials are being disingenuous here. I'm quite happy to assume stupidity rather than malice in most cases but there are limits.

Re:Here's a threat (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024834)

I'm quite happy to assume stupidity rather than malice in most cases but there are limits.

The problem with choosing stupidity over malice is that the old catchphrase assumes it can never be both.

Re:Here's a threat (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024754)

I know several people are already refuting your point, but I have to point out that something that merely can be construed as a threat is not a threat. See the "We're here to shoot a pilot" comment above. Or I'll slit your throat.

Shooting shootings as a pretext... (5, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024384)

School shootings seem to be used as a pretext for schools to accomplish their non-academic goals these days. At my university, for example, the dining halls recently received several large, flat panel TV's each, which provide us with vital information about the price of food and upcoming "dining hall events" (food that isn't normally served but is just as bad). When I noted to a friend that this all seemed like a waste of electricity, especially since we have a coal-fired power plant right on campus, one of the dining hall supervisors overheard me and said, "Yeah, but these can also be used as an emergency communications system, ..." and went on to talk about how students need to be informed.

It was easy to call bullshit, since we already had a system for that. More to the point, using people's fear of a lunatic going on a shooting rampage to justify ludicrous measures like my school's TV's or this George school expelling this student is a disgrace.

Re:Shooting shootings as a pretext... (1)

mwilliamson (672411) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024454)

I wonder if someone turning these stupid advertisement pumps off via a [] device would be changed with disabling emergency communications equipment and expelled. They are easy enough to hide though, and like the typical threat of expulsion keeping people out of the steam tunnels, I'm sure it could become a popular pastime to use such devices.

some might even find it fun...

lesser of evil (1)

Grampaw Willie (631616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024492)

how do ya stop schools shootings?

  • expel everyone who seems inappropriate in some way?

  • post armed guards and metal detectors

this is an unfortunate issue the resolution to which is not clear yet. but it has its origin in the change in the nature and character of our people-- there being not an insignificant amount of evidence indicating our entertainment industry is primarily responsible for this change.

as a grumpy old grampaw I find much of what is presented as "entertainment" to be just plain disgusting and there is no doubt that young kids watching such tripe are not going to be learning good things.

actually, the "Days of the Old West" were safer than downtown LA, Detroit, or DC are today. we need our old time Sunday preachers back and "Sunday, go to meet'n". not as a requirement mind, you, but as a good habit.

Re:Shooting shootings as a pretext... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024506)

received several large, flat panel TV's each

TV's what? What belonged to them?

Oh! You meant TVs.

Re:Shooting shootings as a pretext... (1)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024744)

What? You didn't understand what he meant? Oh! You're trolling.

Re:Shooting shootings as a pretext... (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22025218)

Publicly shaming people who refuse to learn to properly write English is good public policy -- at least in the case where said people are likely to be native speakers or otherwise sufficiently familiar with the language as to have a responsibility to know better. Reducing the error rate in written documents even in cases where those errors aren't important makes it less likely that those same errors will be included in more critical places -- and, perhaps more importantly, raises the status quo observed and respected by others.

No, I don't think "trolling" is an apt descriptor; it's defense of a laudable set of memes. In some circles, offenders get snubbed; here, they attract spelling and grammar nazis.

Re:Shooting shootings as a pretext... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024578)

Hey, if it works the U.S. government, certainly it works for university administrations, right? We can just use horrible, horrible tragedies to scare everyone into compliance! Nobody should disagree, and if you do, you're a terrorist! Or a school shooter! In fact, that's exactly what H.R. 1955 [] is all about. Disagree with the government? You go to Gitmo. It's already passed the House, so write your Senator!

Fire the President (4, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024428)

The school's president should be dismissed with prejudice for his actions, especially trying to bully the school's counseling service into providing him with "evidence" that the student was dangerous. I'd also dump the spineless jerks on the Board of Trustees.

Re:Fire the President (3, Informative)

ConanG (699649) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024450)

The article mentions the President retired (or will retire) six-months before he planned to. No way to know if this incident had anything to do with it though.

University Contact Information (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024432)

President: [mailto]

University Relations: [mailto]

1500, N Patterson St. Valdosta, GA 31698 []

+1 229-333-5800
or 800-618-1878

For your well reasoned & thought out responses.

Re:University Contact Information (2, Funny)

Mike89 (1006497) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024568)

For your well reasoned & thought out responses.
*laughs at the thought of their inbox*. Oh god, now I have to find that Pennyarcade comic.. here we go []

Making an Example. (2, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024452)

I'd like to see him sue his educational institution for millions and millions to make an example out of them. Sue for a refund of tuition, lodging, lost time, and the rest for mental anguish then he can use that money at his next school which hopefully won't be as ignorant as this one. There is one thing that people seem to forget is absolutely needed: a healthy disrespect for authority. When someone is held above reproach they tend to turn into a dick. Accountability and it's prerequisite transparency allows the separation of people and jobs they don't deserve. It makes me fume and recall a quote from "Scent of a Woman" where Al Pacino's character states flatly: "If I was half the man I was five years ago I'd burn this school to the ground." when he is confronting the same type of idiots who don't care who's life they ruin as long as they're "right".

More fuel for the fire (5, Interesting)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024464)

I stumbled across his treatment of free speech on his campus here [] , basically students have a tiny Free Speech zone where they can speak freely between 12 to 1 pm and 5 to 6 pm, as long as they give 48 hours notice and comply with onerous regulations about maintaining order and decorum. I get the feeling he doesn't quite grasp the whole first amendment thing.

"Privacy"? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024478)

> what-is-this-privacy-of-which-you-speak

It's clear that the university president is an asshole, but what the hell has this to do with privacy? Perhaps you meant to type "freedom of speech"?

Re:"Privacy"? (1)

FroBugg (24957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024534)

Well, the fact that University officials are browsing the Facebook sites of students might worry some. Also the statement in the article that the president spoke to psychiatrists the student had previously seen before bringing anything to the attention of the student.

What to do... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024500)

Challenge it, and if the school still expells you, consider a lawsuit. After all, you poured a lot of money into the college. They are operating as a business. They failed to provide you with the service they promised. They should have to give you a full refund for wrongful expulsion.

I don't know all the details, but I probably wouldn't buy their argument that the student threatened them. The college might not simply like what they have to say, so they do their best to exaggerate something in order to have grounds for expulsion. Schools don't like it when students challenge their spending habits, or so I think.

I don't even understand the V tech reason here.. (2, Insightful)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024502)

If I were a president of an institution and I thought that someone was a lunatic just waiting to shoot up the school, the last thing I would want to do is expell him under flimsy pretexts. It seems like that would be the LAST thing you would ever want to do. If this kid didn't have a motive, he sure as hell has one now.

Taking that into consideration I have a hard time believing the president acted in the best interest of the university whether Barnes was a threat or not.

Idiot school administrators (1)

dgun (1056422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024510)

Do all public school administrators have some built in compulsion towards infringing tyrannical nonsense?

Re:Idiot school administrators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024674)

Yeah, they're communist worshippers. Self-explanitory, no?

Re:Idiot school administrators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22025174)

Do all public school administrators have some built in compulsion towards infringing tyrannical nonsense?

No. But, if they're trying to get a mention on slashdot, it helps.

What's really interesting (5, Insightful)

Mike1024 (184871) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024536)

From the article:

"Knowing that Barnes had availed himself of counseling services made available to all students by VSU, Zaccari secretly and repeatedly met with Barnes's counselor seeking to justify his decision to expel him," the lawsuit states. "What he learned from both the campus counseling center and from Barnes's private psychiatrist who was consulted in the matter, however, was that Barnes had never exhibited any violent tendencies

University administrators looking at students' public facebook pages is perhaps a bit odd, but for administrators to have access to counselling records and private medical records seems like a far more important invasion of privacy to me.

This case demonstrates why privacy of medical records is so important - you complain about a car park being built and a paper-pusher with an axe to grind accesses your medical records and paints you as a madman if you ever set foot in a psychologist's office.

Re:What's really interesting (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024640)

IANAL, but isn't talking with the psychiatrist a violation of HIPAA? If so, then the President may have broken a federal law that has significant penalties for compromising the privacy of a person's medical records.

Whenever someone overreacts like this, I pray that their lives are utterly shattered, so as to make an example of them.

BTW: the IT department wasraided... (3, Funny)

tmk (712144) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024542)

...after they published a FAQ on "troubleshooting".

Media War (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024588)

They just got their first lesson in Media War 101: the war takes place in the media. But the test asks "where are the bodies buried?", which is "in the lawyer's office".

Since the school has expelled them with the explicit reason that "shooting video to publish is a 'clear and present danger to the school'", but it isn't, they should have an easy case to win. Which is a direct hit to the school, and will probably sink their parking garage battleship once the ongoing story gets back into the media. Because if the mass media loves one thing these days, it's seeing new people making news content for free that it can circulate to pad its ads, especially if the story is about the power of the media.

"VTech backlash" by cowardly schools is ugly. But the backlash to that backlash, if brought by brave students, should decimate that enemy.

Public Records (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024598)

I do believe that any school building project has to be approved by the city, which then promptly posts the building plans for PUBLIC debate before the permit is granted. ( at least they do here )

Anyone missing the big picture? (4, Insightful)

whoda (569082) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024646)

What about the rest of the students who weren't expelled and are being educated by these idiots? That's the real story.

Way too far (1)

LSanchez (928788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024676)

I'm all for prosecuting people who are dumb enough to post pictures/videos of themselves doing illegal activities, but this is going too far. He was using his right to free speech. Quite frankly, I would never attend a university like this, and I hope someone can take this school down a peg. You can't just silence critics.

Re:Way too far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024870)

You can't just silence critics.
I don't believe you've met my friend Mr. Putin.

This kind of thing happens at lots of schools. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22024698)

I am posting AC because last year this kind of thing happened at my university also. The president of the university was catching a lot of flak from students about putting nearly 50% of his budget towards the football team instead of academic programs or even other sports programs (in fact the other sports programs were so under-funded that they closed the pool and made the swimming team practice at the city public pool.) He got mad and the next thing you know a group of about 10 students were informed that they would not be able to attend classes next term because they had "failed to adapt to campus life." All of them had been vocal members of the groups opposing the president. Three of them were seniors due to graduate that year. All of the students were allowed to return after they threatened to play the lawsuit game. I think that the student from the article could probably do the same since the comment from the picture seems to have been taken totaly out of context.

Privacy?? (4, Insightful)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024702)

Interesting story, but I think the question shouldn't be whether the University has the right to look at your profiles're putting them in a public forum - one must assume that the information you present in said public forum is viewable by the public. I mean seriously, it's like having a loud conversation in an airport terminal and suing someone for overhearing your conversation.
This is not a privacy issue, it's an issue of the university overreacting in a way that I'm sure would be inconsistent with their code of conduct. If it's not, then the student needs to bring suit and talk to his student union about policy changes.

Facebook or Foolbook? (2, Informative)

Organic Brain Damage (863655) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024752)

You'd have to be living under a rock not to realize that Facebook (and MySpace) are being used by schools and employers and angry colleagues to deny employment or discipline students. Why would anyone keep a Facbook page up and running today? So you can show your "friends" how much dope you smoked last weekend? That's just stupid.

Maybe I'm too old to understand, but back in the '70s when when a doper bragged about lost weekends the bragging wasn't recorded.

Friends don't let friends post on Facebook.

Spybook and Myspy (1)

eNygma-x (1137037) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024874)

As someone that works for a college this type of action concerns me. Lately college employees are encouraged to use Facebook and Myspace to interact with students. But is seems to used to spy on each other instead. I think its time to encourage people on college campuses to get off these virtual social networks and start real social networks. And if colleges continue to use these sites clear guidelines need to be set up for the faculty and staff.
I think this group on facebook is a good start.

Faculty Ethics on Facebook
Type: Internet & Technology - Cyberculture
Description: A discussion forum for Facebook participants to suggest activity guidelines for faculty. Proposed guidelines include: 1. Keeping official course activities in official online tools and not on Facebook. 2. Never requiring students to participate in Facebook or having Facebook participation influence a course grade. (An exception is for class projects that might use Facebook for research purposes [such as a statistical analysis of how Facebook groups grow and fade] and make their connection to a course explicit.) 3. Not friending students unless they request the connection. Not poking students. Never pressuring students to friend the professor (such as repeated mention of a faculty profile in class). 4. Accepting friend requests from all students (unless the instructor makes the decision not to friend students at all). 5. Not looking at student profiles unless the faculty member has been friended by the student and even then using Facebook information judiciously and for educational purposes. In short, not spying on students, but getting to know them better when invited to do so. 6. Faculty members should avoid association with Facebook groups with explicit sexual content or views that might offend or compromise the student / teacher relationship. This guideline must be applied sensitively within the context of a diverse educational environment in which both students and faculty practice tolerance and accept competing views. 7. Taking extreme care with privacy settings and faculty profile content to limit profiles to information relevant to educational purposes. A broad variety of information may be appropriate, however, given the area of expertise / subject, the local customs of an instructor's school, and the personal dynamics of his or her classroom. Content should be placed thoughtfully and periodically reconsidered to maintain this educational standard. 8. Exercising appropriate discretion when using Facebook for personal communications (with friends, colleagues, other students, etc.) with the knowledge that faculty behavior on Facebook may be used as a model by our students. 9. Never misrepresenting oneself by using a false name or persona on Facebook, unless that characterization is connected explicitly with the real identity of the instructor. 10. Considering that the uneven power dynamics of the academy in which professors have authority over students, continue to shape the online relationship, even when the network tool (such as Facebook) is apparently democratic. 11. Keeping wall posts and other Facebook communication in concord with standard ethical practices of the educational relationship. 12. Never posting official course communication (feedback on an assignment, for example) in a public area of Facebook. Feedback might be given through private Facebook messaging when the student has asked a question via Facebook or a previous friend connection exists. These guidelines are intended to be points for consideration and not hard and fast rules or laws of faculty behavior. Individual faculty must make individual decisions about the best practices in specific classrooms and educational contexts, always following the principle of nurturing student learning.

Re:Facebook or Foolbook? (3, Insightful)

Khakionion (544166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22025082)

The only "foolish" part of it is that these people haven't taken the time to mess with the privacy settings on their fucking profiles. Photos, Notes, even your basic profile can have their visibility changed to various classes of user. If you're doing something questionable, but still want that media shared, learn to protect your content.

However, this particular case at Valdosta is irrelevant and ridiculous, seeing as the content was totally innocuous.

Now that's well thought out plan... (1)

dnight (153296) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024806)

"We think this student might be violent, let's slip an expulsion note under his door."

It should be interesting to see what the setllement amount is going to be.

What is the effect on others ? (4, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024896)

There has been a lot of comment about the effect on the student, what the university should have done, .... but just think what effect this will have on the other students who are looking at this fiasco. They will say to themselves: "Oh, shit - I had better not say anything that might not be liked by those who have power over me because I might be penalised!". This mindset is likely to last the rest of their lives.

What this sort of thing does is to generate adults who keep their heads down and won't make negative comments no matter what the government, their employer, ... does. This means that the few who run the country/company/... can commit outrageous acts and get away with it because the population is too scared to complain.

It is just this sort of mentality that lets the government get away with some of the huge restrictions of freedom that it is imposing.

This sort of thinking is what kills democracy.

I am talking about the USA here, but I am a Brit and can see this sort of thing will also happen here... where our government ignores us and the law anyway.

Obviously (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024922)

Obviously the university doesn't have a photography department. Otherwise they'd have a ton of these going out to students. Idiots. Behold higher education in America! The time has come for such actions to jeopardize their federal funding. Its time to starve political correctness to death!

Meaningless article (1)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22025016)

It's impossible to know what's going on in the minds of the administrators without reading the comments that this fellow posted -- did he simply criticize, or did he threaten? Is is a person of conscience, or a lunatic?

The only info we're given is extremely vague. If the school officials were really over-reacting, it should be obvious from the comments. So where are they?

I smell sensationalist journalism...

Post-Virginia Tech world (5, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22025062)

I move that whomever uses /that/ phrase be summarily shot.

FAGORz (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22025124)

prima doonas, 3and An operating system How is the GNAA parties, but here

Too far? (4, Interesting)

loraksus (171574) | more than 6 years ago | (#22025130)

Has university surveillance of online identities gone too far?

Is it really relevant here? Someone in the school administration wanted to silence a single student who raised awareness about a project that was pissing away a significant amount of student money. So they went out, found a flimsy, bullshit excuse and ran with it.

It isn't a matter of active and sustained surveillance of students - it's the matter of a administrator (or one of his minions) doing something stupid that will cost the school quite a few bucks in legal fees and the upcoming settlement in order to protect one of his pet projects.

We all know politics in the real world has pork and corruption, but the academic world takes it a step further in some cases. When you factor in the effect of tenure, it can get ugly very quickly, especially if the tenured employees feel threatened.
Quaint notions such as "the law" are ignored - primarily because even though their actions put the school at legal jeopardy, the actual employee really is unaffected.
Besides, college students aren't really known for their ability to retain lawyers easily.

I speak with some authority, since I was VP of student government and finance director PCC Sylvania. I've spent a few years in student government and suffice it to say, I've seen a few things.
For a bit of background, PCC Sylvania is a campus w/ ~24,000 students. Roughly 86,000 students currently attend PCC's multiple campuses, making it one of the largest schools in terms of enrollment in the USA.
Granted, PCC isn't a university, but from what I've seen, student fees are handled in more or less the same manner at any school.

Student government didn't get all the student fees - a significant portion of the collected fees went to projects run by (factions in the) administration and only a few percent trickled down and could be spent by the elected student government.
I'm not going to say it was all wasted, but I can completely understand how people can get pissed at how large portions (5-6 figures, year after year) of it were spent.

What can you really expect? After all, you are talking about a funding source that is essentially guaranteed, with virtually no oversight and run / spent by tenured administrators / professors. You're going to have corruption, you're going to have abuses of power and this is really nothing new.

The only thing different here is that it made the papers because even though this type of arbitrary expulsion isn't exactly new (it has been on the rise for the last few years - it's not a result of Virginia Tech), it still makes a fairly good story, especially with the "early departure".
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