College Violates Student's Rights, Follows It Up By Deleting Critical Comments From Its Facebook Page

from the showing-a-definite-preference-for-wrongs-over-rights dept

Another college has deployed censorious tactics, and as usual, FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has the story.

On October 23, 2013, Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) student Nicholas Saucier had a videotaped conversation about recent gun legislation with Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, who was visiting campus as part of an ongoing conference. At the end of the conversation, during which he called Malloy a “snake” as Malloy left in his vehicle, Saucier was confronted by the college’s president and a campus security officer, who escorted him off campus. The college charged Saucier with harassment and making threats, among other violations of its conduct policies.

The video of this encounter is still live (no doubt much to ACC’s chagrin) and it shows Saucier discussing the impact of the governor’s gun control policies on his ammunition business. Governor Malloy doesn’t look too interested in fielding complaints from a constituent, which probably explains Saucier’s tossed off, low-level insult as his “representative” exited the scene.

Not only did Saucier get run off campus by the school president and his security team, he was also suspended and banned from the school’s property until college administration could “discuss” his supposed “harassment” with him. But rather than entertain any ideas of due process, ACC instead tried to pressure the student into “pleading guilty” to all “charges” and submitting to a mandatory professional evaluation before he could apply for readmission.

Saucier instead pushed for a formal hearing, rather than plead guilty to obviously false charges. The school allowed this but would not allow him to enter his taped conversation as evidence on his behalf. It also prohibited any recordings of the hearing itself, ensuring it could (attempt) to spin the outcome in any direction it chose to. As can be expected, the school found Saucier guilty of all charges. It did lift the suspension but put him on probation.

FIRE stepped in and sent a letter to the college demanding that it explain its violations of Saucier’s due process and free speech rights. This letter went unanswered. This didn’t stop the school from making another unfounded claim when contacted by another site covering the story.

The Blaze reports:

“A spokesperson from Asnuntuck Community College told TheBlaze that they are seeking a correction from FIRE, saying their statement on the situation is “categorically false,” and that Saucier was suspended for his harassing behavior and not the subject matter. They declined to go into any more specifics, citing Saucier’s privacy.”

FIRE has not received any requests from ACC for corrections or any other correspondence at this time (although maybe such a request is on the way). We have not asserted that Saucier was suspended for the subject matter of his questioning—only that his speech was protected by the First Amendment and was neither harassing nor threatening, despite what ACC has alleged.

All the while, the ACC has been busy burying dissenting opinions from students and others. FIRE reports that the admins of the school’s Facebook page had been removing critical comments before finally deciding to take the entire page offline.

After we covered the case here on The Torch, though, concerned citizens took to ACC’s Facebook page to demand answers and action from ACC administrators. And they did get a reaction—just not the one they’d hoped for.

ACC deleted every critical or questioning post from its Facebook page.

Unfortunately for the school, these deletions are well documented. Even if these hadn’t been captured, the fact that the page was removed would indicate that the school is still completely uninterested in dealing with the results of its censorious efforts.

Here’s a few of the screengrabs FIRE obtained before ACC memory-holed its Facebook page.



Now it’s completely gone, save for a sanitized version preserved by Google’s cache. It’s truly sad that a school would feel strongly enough about supposed “harassment” and “threats” to violate a student’s rights, but not strongly enough to step up and defend its actions to critics. This certainly explains its decision to block Saucier from presenting his recording in his defense as well as its banning of any recordings of its closed hearing. The school’s policies cannot survive even the simplest challenge.

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Comments on “College Violates Student's Rights, Follows It Up By Deleting Critical Comments From Its Facebook Page”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ah, but here’s the very important part, something the government has made all too clear: a ‘bill of rights’ is, in the end, nothing more than a fancy piece of paper unless there are clearly listed punishments for violating those rights, and those punishments are enforced, no matter how high up the one triggering them is.

Without those two things, those ‘rights’ are little more than ‘privileges’, and ones that can be revoked at the whim of those in charge at that.

Beech says:

Understandable, if despicable, from the President’s point of view. Here he found some way to lure a politician to his school, probably by promising some softball questions or a sweet photo op or two. Politician shows up expecting a cakewalk appearance. Sign an autograph, kiss a baby, BAM! More votes! The last thing he wanted was to answer like, actual questions or be reminded that his actions actually have tangible consequences.

Now the president has a dilemma. On one hand, free speech blah blah whatever. On the other hand, how is he ever going to get a politician to come back to his school if they may actually have to do real work answering real questions? President needed to save face to make sure he could ass-kiss his way back into Representative Snake’s good graces, and making an example out of a mouthy constituent looked like a pretty good way.

Of course, dude got it on camera, and now it’s trending on the internet so neither the president, nor the school, nor the politician are going to come out of this looking good. So, God Bless the Interwebs I guess.

KRA (profile) says:


Of course college should the place where people grow into citizenship, recognize the power of their voices, embrace their responsibility to participate in government and become invested in the political process.

Through its administration’s brilliant, yet unconventional, teaching methods, Ashuntuck Community College made sure that this young man is even more committed to speaking up now then he was when he asked his question of the governor.

Well done, President James Lombella! I’m sure other institutions have already flooded your inbox, looking to poach you from Ashuntuck.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:


In case no one’s been watching, most of our worst government autocrats have an entirely different definition of citizenship than you or I. To them, citizenship is head-down, slow march, boot-licking obeisance to everything the autocrats proclaim; and never, ever question authority, rock the boat, or even ask the autocrats to explain.

To those autocrats, anyone who violates their “rules of good citizenship” must be silenced and then disposed of, normalized or otherwise rendered “harmless” by any available means.

Governor Malloy appears from this story to be one of those; the college president another.

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