Free speech is one of our fundamental first freedoms, Save Jerseyans, but it’s in danger at Montclair State University.
A pillar of classical liberalism and the American way of life is under assault by those who have been charged to pass its wisdom on to the next generation of citizens.
The reported facts by NJ.com: Montclair graduate student Joe Aziz was recently suspended and banned from campus. His alleged offense? Aziz purportedly commented on a Facebook-posted video. The video (which has since been taken down) featured a heckler and a female friend at a Steve Lonegan speaking event on campus.
Aziz made light of the female’s weight and, not long after he posted his comments, he received a University No-Contact Order (viewable here: http://thefire.org/article/15323.html)…
I’ve since read the publicly posted Montclair University Code of Conduct (http://www.montclair.edu/dean-of-students/student-conduct/code-conduct/), the Students Rights and Responsibilities (http://www.montclair.edu/dean-of-students/handbook/rights-responsibilities/), and the University Policies page (http://www.montclair.edu/dean-of-students/handbook/university-policies/#d.en.14538); this blogger can’t understand how Aziz’s actions qualify as a “violation of University policies or community standards.”
The University’s second letter (http://thefire.org/article/15324.html) appeared to state that Aziz wasn’t ultimately culpable for the substantive allegations, but since he exercised his freedom of speech by discussing the situation, his suspension was upheld and he faces a permanent black mark on his academic record.
Aziz’s case has attracted the attention of the well-known Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) (who sent a letter to the University: http://thefire.org/article/15322.html) and has received coverage from mainstream media outlets including The Star Ledger(http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/01/civil_liberty_group_defends_mo.html).
I am encouraging readers to contact the University and respectfully ask that they respect students’ First Amendment rights and reconsider their utterly strange and anti-free speech decision.