University of Oregon Slaps Student With Five Conduct Charges Over Four Words

from the UO:-because-the-world-needs-a-higher-grade-of-whiner dept

Ah, college. The embodiment of the open exchange of opinions and ideas, where today’s youth go expand not only their horizons but their worldview. In this hopelessly idealistic portrayal, today’s teens would grow into adults ready to face a world that isn’t nearly as pleasant as previously indicated.

In reality, many colleges are helicopter parents who believe the right to never be offended is guaranteed by the Constitution or, failing that, by a set of restrictive policies paired with disproportionate penalties.

In reality, four words can get you five conduct charges.

Here are the four words:

On June 9, 2014, the female student in question was visiting with friends in UO’s Carson Hall dormitory. According to the student, looking out of the dormitory window, she spotted a male and female student walking together (she did not know either of them) and shouted “I hit it first” at them in jest. The female of the couple responded with two profanities…

That’s the free exchange of ideas and opinions on display there. One student jokingly suggesting she had sexual relations with a member of the couple (male/female not specified by “it”) and one student responding with profanities. Case should have been closed right there, what with each party getting their verbal jabs in. But note the ellipsis above…

… and the couple reported the student’s comment to the Resident Assistant of the dorm.

So, at this point a third party has been dragged in because apparently the couple didn’t feel the shouted profanities properly redressed their (minor, fleeting) grievance. So, the Resident Assistant did some assisting.

The Resident Assistant located the student and insisted that she apologize to the couple for her remark. The student readily obliged.

Case closed.

No, wait. Five conduct charges. FIVE CONDUCT CHARGES. The aggrieved couple, having shouted out profanities and having acquired an apology still felt this student’s offhand remark hadn’t been properly addressed. So, up the ladder they went. Thanks to the school’s inability to laugh the angry couple of the office, the joking student was hit with five conduct charges:

Unreasonable noise/community disruption
Violation of the university housing contract
Disrupting university [sic]
Disorderly conduct

The student was given two options: face an “administrative panel” whose decision would be final and unable to be appealed (but suspension or expulsion not an option) or face a Student Conduct Panel, which would leave room for appeal but put suspension/expulsion back on the table.

The administration’s “bright line” for determining guilt is (I AM NOT KIDDING) whether the incident “more likely than not” occurred. Any discussion about whether the shouted joke “more likely than not” should have resulted in having the book thrown at the student apparently isn’t up for discussion.

If either panel finds the student “more likely than not” guilty of making an offensive, one-line joke, she pays the administrative fees and deals with whatever punishment is decided. If declared “more likely than not” not guilty, no one pays anything, not even the couple whose existence was rendered ghastly and nightmarish by a couple of seconds of careless window shouting nearly three months ago.

FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has responded to this overblown reaction.

FIRE wrote to UO President Michael Gottfredson on August 1, demanding that the charges against the student be dropped. FIRE also called on UO to revise its unconstitutional speech codes—in particular, the harassment policy under which it charged the student. That policy contains unconstitutionally broad and vague prohibitions on “[u]nreasonable insults,” “gestures,” and “abusive words” that may cause “emotional distress” to others, subjecting UO students to punishment for any expression deemed subjectively distressing.

The college has responded with:

When colleges allow their speech policies to expand past the point of common sense, that’s when free speech gets crushed. Ideally, universities would never have to deal with anyone ever being offended, but it’s far from an ideal world. Throwing the book at a student just because someone complained is ridiculous. All it does is make it easier and easier for a small minority of easily offended people to strip away the rights of the rest of the student body. An institute of higher learning should be working harder to ensure the rights of every student, not teaching them how to most effectively deploy a heckler’s veto.

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Comments on “University of Oregon Slaps Student With Five Conduct Charges Over Four Words”

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bobby b says:

Re: Re:

“I think the two students who escalated this should be utterly ashamed of themselves.”

Not a chance. Among their friends, they’re beaming with self-righteous satisfaction.

After all, people who offend them clearly have no right to even BE there. It’s upsetting to the precious little flowers. We’re just glad the couple was brave enough to recognize their clear civic duty to bring this attack to the proper authorities.


Whatever (profile) says:


A whole lot of turning in circles to try to miss the point:

Don’t make sexually loaded comments to people, and certainly don’t yell it across the university courtyard.

The rest of your post is making excuses for bad behavior, and holding the university to task for having the attachments to have rules and actually enforce them.

Free speech does not mean unlimited speech.

JC Carter says:

Re: Wow


Also, profanity in reply to said sexually loaded comment was also against the universities policies, and not a factor of free speed. Said participant should be facing at least four charges, not limited to

Unreasonable noise/community disruption
Disrupting university [sic olol]
Disorderly conduct

Eponymous Coward says:

Re: Wow

The term “bad behavior” is overly broad in your use for it ignores the unreasonable response to such “bad behavior”; and potentially suspending a student for such a quip is fucking idiotic without question. Your whole rhetorical stance here is one of -rules are rules, and if you break them you deserve the punishment- , but without analyzing if the punishment fits the “bad behavior” negating the point you’re attempting to shoe-horn in here. We expect institutions to respond to such childish lapses in judgment with maturity, not their own lapses in discretion themselves through overreacting. To analigize this one can’t yell fire in a crowded theater and go unpunished, but if the punishment handed down is thirty years in jail I feel you would defend such an overreach of authority the same way as you do now: ‘don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.’

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wow

Is the university’s results an over reaction? Almost without a doubt. However, as a private institution, they generally can set the bar (and the procedures) as they like, and in this case, the student got caught up by doing something which hit a lot of hot button issues – disturbing the peace of the university, breaching the dorm rules, comments of a sexual nature, and so on.

Was the behavior childish? Sure enough. If the university ignored it (after a complaint) they would just be condoning and encouraging it. They didn’t have to go as far as they did in punishing it, but honestly they can let it slide either.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow

“If the university ignored it (after a complaint) they would just be condoning and encouraging it.”

They didn’t ignore it. An apology was requested, which was given, and the couple in question had arguably already retaliated in a more offensive way. The matter was settled before they decided to push it any further.

But, poor little snowflakes had their feelings hurt, and since they’re not in the real world yet they can waste time and resources on such trivialities. I can only imagine the fear that reality will generate once they realise that people outside their bubble might be able to say worse with no repercussions.

Well, either that or there’s a long history of bad blood between these people and the couple simply have no qualms about such waste, since they face no repercussions themselves and some fools working for the university have the same “rule are rules” mentality that you support regardless of proportionality. Despite your doomsday approach, there’s no reason this is a proper response. You have to lose all sense of proportion to even consider it correct.

Anon says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow

“However, as a private institution”. It’s not a private institution, it’s a state university. It is officially labeled a “public research University”. Take note of the word “public”.

At my University, they had few rules. Nearly everything came down to, “is it illegal”. If shouting at night was illegal because of city noise ordinances, then someone could complain, otherwise, shove off.

The only real exceptions to this was during finals. During those few weeks, they were quite strict about being disruptive or noisy.

Jack says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow

“However, as a private institution, they generally can set the bar (and the procedures) as they like”

Um, except “University of Oregon” is a state university, bound by the First Amendment. Good lord, you clearly didn’t even read any of the background materials, and who on earth doesn’t know that there are such things as public universities? How do some of you people function in the real world?

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow

Here is how it should have gone:

1) Student yells stupid thing out window
2) Students being yelled at yell back stupid thing
…it really should stop there, but…
3) Students being yelled at complain to the University
4) Students being yelled at are immediately enrolled in mandatory class to teach Constitutional Amendments

When I was growing up, offensive speech was EXACTLY WHAT THE FIRST AMENDMENT HAD IN MIND. Unoffensive speech doesn’t need protection. Where did that go?

Our universities are supposed to be teaching our youth HOW TO COMMUNICATE. How about we start by teaching them that while some people may not like what we say, it is important that we have the right to say it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wow

Obviously you lack a sense of humour.

If I had been put to task with any of the number of things I shouted whilst at Uni I would have been expelled long before I graduated.

And that is over here in the UK where we don’t have free speech enshrined in our constitution (we do have a sensor of humour though).

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wow

So you are of the opinion that people are free to agree with whoever is in authority

No troll, I didn’t say that. I agree that the university needs to have rules (especially in regards to comments of a sexual nature) and they need to deal with them evenly.

There is no restriction on legal and sane free speech. Only an idiot would conclude that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow

There is no restriction on legal and sane free speech.

As soon as you divide speech into legal and illegal speech, you are restricting speech, and it is therefore no longer free. That said, what someone say can be used in evidence against them when they are accused of a crime, such as inciting violence. However, banning speech that someone may find offensive is a direct attack on free speech.

No troll, I didn’t say that. I agree that the university needs to have rules (especially in regards to comments of a sexual nature) and they need to deal with them evenly.

Which is some authority defining what people are free to say.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow

“No troll”

The definition of “troll” is not “someone who disagrees with me”. Your grasp of the rest of the issues is usually as firm as your grasp of this word.

“There is no restriction on legal and sane free speech. Only an idiot would conclude that.”

Who defines “sane” and “legal”? When those boundaries are set, how is this not a restriction, especially if your own definition differs?

Your history of whining whenever someone correctly calls you an idiot, yet clearly having no problem doing the same to others, indicates that you don’t really have well defined boundaries in mind yourself.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Wow

“No troll”

The definition of “troll” is not “someone who disagrees with me”. Your grasp of the rest of the issues is usually as firm as your grasp of this word.

Definition of troll in this case is someone misrepresenting what I said in order to pick a fight. You know that, which is why I generally don’t answer you anymore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Wow

So all we have to do is convince your self-importance and egocentrism that the entire Techdirt site exists to pick a fight with you and then you’ll stop being a troll here anymore? You do realize that your definition of trolling matches your conduct on this site with almost every comment you make, right?

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow

What’s sane for you? Because clearly her speech wasn’t illegal (last I checked humor isn’t a crime or even a civil matter). I think what you tend to spew is insane so you should be arrested. Are you ok with it? Since you believe cops are almighty good entities I might become a cop to go arrest you. Shouldn’t have any problems with it right? After all the law is the law and your speech is clearly harmful to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow

(especially in regards to comments of a sexual nature)

So your saying any comment of a sexual nature is off limits?

Wanna come back to my place?
Your hot!
You must be exhausted, you’ve been running around in my head all day!
Nice body!
Wanna #u©&?
I’d tap that!
Did you bring a condom?

What’s next? Ban speech on religion, politics and family values.

Here is what you miss. We have and should encourage free speech, it encourages the free exchange of ides which is beneficial to society. People can and will say things that offend you, get over it. Your comment against free speech offended me so by your standards you should be disciplined.

Yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, yes inducing public panic where people could be harmed is wrong.
Yelling ‘I hit it first’ is harmless and could easily be shrugged off.

Guess too many people today are pansy ass pussies that can’t take a joke and run home to their helicopter mommy and cry like babies.

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Wow

But IS it harmless? What if it ruins their happiness and destroys their relationship? What if they call off a wedding that was costing $30,000 because she thinks he cheated (which was based on a lie)?

Untrue defamatory speech can have real negative consequences, including financial and is NOT protected speech.

(But I still think that after an apology–which presumably included an admission that it wasn’t true and was just an ill-conceived joke–that the matter was clearly settled.)

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Wow

“But IS it harmless?”

Pretty much, yes.

“What if it ruins their happiness and destroys their relationship? What if they call off a wedding that was costing $30,000 because she thinks he cheated (which was based on a lie)?”

If the relationship can be destroyed that easily, then that relationship was already broken and doomed. The “harm” was not created by the comment at all. In your scenario, he should be grateful that this was discovered earlier rather than later.

“Untrue defamatory speech can have real negative consequences, including financial and is NOT protected speech.”

True. But this is not a case of that. It was clearly and obviously a joke, not a serious statement of fact.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow

No troll, I didn’t say that.

Yes, troll, you did.

You said “Don’t make sexually loaded comments to people, and certainly don’t yell it across the university courtyard.”

Which loosely translates to “don’t use speech with which the authorities disagree.”

> I agree that the university needs to have rules (especially in regards to comments of a sexual nature) and they need to deal with them evenly.

Remind me where “sane” speech is somewhere codified?

Do I get to define sane? Because if so, everything you say being insane, you’re violating that rule. If not, who does? This isn’t fire in a crowded theater or even a close case.

Brian Battles says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow

“There is no restriction on legal and sane free speech.”
The entire point of freedom of speech is that laws cannot be passed (by the government) to dictate what can or cannot be said.
Therefore there will not ever be legal free speech.
And the young lady’s sanity was not ever in question.
How about we stop trying to legislate and regulate people’s interpersonal behavior where neither party is actually injured?
At what point does is this type of regulation really actually something the university should do?
Do you think that you should wear a microphone so that people can hear what you say all day long and monitor your speech so that you don’t offend some lily livered lefty with an offhand comment?
Do you really think that this is any type of commentary on modern society ***except for some self righteous wankers smacking someone with the university for making a joke?
honestly if you think this bureaucracy has the right to police the speech of the students at the university you are missing the entire concept that this country is founded upon.

CFWhitman says:

Re: Wow

Basically everything you said is correct, except that you appear to have missed two points:
1) Yes, this is inappropriate behavior, but the punishment should fit the crime. As a one time incident, a warning and an apology really ought to be enough action for something like this.
2) The other party responded to the remark in kind and is receiving no similar punishment. Really, they should both have been asked to apologize to each other and the matter subsequently dropped.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wow

Yes, this is inappropriate behavior, but the punishment should fit the crime

Bulls**t. This is not inappropriate behavior, this is speech and in this country we should be able to say anything to anyone without an authority getting involved.

I have the right to say what I want and you have the right to say you disagree.

Really, they should both have been asked to apologize

Really, everyone involved EXCEPT the girl that yelled out the window should be forced to sit through a class that covers the first amendment. This is a PUBLIC UNIVERSITY. There should be no reason to have any restricted speech on campus – and they should be teaching the students why that is important.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Wow

It’s not excusing bad behavior. It’s pointing out the fact that the University is dramatically overreacting to what is truly a very minor incident.

I have a child who attends the University of Oregon, and keep up on what’s happening there. And this is actually a reasonably small misstep compared to others the U of O administration has been engaging in over the last year or so.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wow

Maybe I’m an idiot, but I don’t understand how the first comment was sexually loaded….

The comment was “I hit it first”. To “hit it” is slang for having sex with someone (in particular I’m sure you can get a plethora of results searching for “I’d hit that”). So she was saying “I had sex with that person first”.

njoriole says:

Re: Wow

Wow yourself, Whatever. Talk about missing the point! (As well as completely misunderstanding the article itself.) To reiterate: NO ONE has a constitution right to never be offended. The vindictiveness of the “offended” couple was way over board, and strikes me as showing how doomed we are if two supposed adults can’t handle such back and forth without running to Mommy and Daddy (in this case, the totalitarian University officials). Two words come immediately to mind:
Grow Up!

Reformed Trombonist (user link) says:

Re: Somebody Certainly Missed the Point...

…and it wasn’t TechDirt.

Basic question: do we really have more to fear from the occasional exhibition of verbal poor taste, instead of from large and powerful public bureaucracies who assume the authority to circumvent the Constitution, step all over due process, and ruin lives, all of which is based at least partly on money essentially taken from parents at gun point?

Capn Rusty says:

Re: Wow

Tyranny is on your doorstep and you don’t even have the good sense to shut the door. Who would decide the limits on speech? Can you think about that? You think the “good” people will decide the limits, don’t you? But once you/we allow anyone to place limits on our speech, what will happen if the “bad” people gain the power to set those limits.

Pawn to d4 says:

Holy shit Batman...

This incident reminds me of my college days (late 1990’s, early 2000’s); I did not know that college kids still do this. My friends and I used to do this kind of thing all the time –not with “I hit it first,” but with other comments depending on the situation. We called it, rather non-creatively, “punking.” Mostly we would make fun of overtly macho-macho-men by either hitting on them (none of us are gay, but it was fun anyway) or calling them some name to get them all worked up only for us to drive off when they got pissed enough to fight. And people did it to us, but we just laughed and shrugged our shoulders. Was this bad behavior? Sure, but it was good fun, unless you were a macho-macho-douche. No harm, no foul.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is what happens when free speech is ignored ,
in favor of rigid rules.
College is where you grow,up, mature, and learn to express
your adult self.
IT seems to me the land of the free is not free ,
more like the land of ever expanding rules an regulations,
which reduce free speech and human rights and serve as a
chilling effect on normal human behavior .
AND give the police more and more powers
coupled with large scale online surveillance .

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This comment should be reproduced in 72-point bold type all over this page. The universities and colleges of the United States have a massive rape problem that they’ve done their best to keep under wraps — despite all their vigorous protestations to the contrary. They deny, they obfuscate, they stall, they reclassify, they excuse, they lie, they do everything possible to avoid admitting that women on their campuses are frequently victimized.

It’s much easier to throw the book at someone over a snarky halfass comment that nobody cares about than to deal with the fact that the frat two blocks off campus is systematically raping women on a regular basis.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Don’t FIRE semi-regularly post stories about universities railroading the accused in sexual harassment or sexual assault cases, with ludicrously one-sided kangaroo courts?

AIUI it comes from an insane misreading of part of the sexual equality legislation, which requires universities provide counselling and related services for victims if it is more likely than not that they were victimised, and misinterpreting that to mean that they have to apply the same standard of evidence to punishing the supposed offender (they don’t, except they can’t make him pay unless he’s found guilty). Then, just to make sure they come up with the right result, some give special education to the members of the panel to tell them that any attempt at defending themselves is a sign of guilt and non-remorse, refuse to allow the accused to have any legal counsel (or even some kind of internal advocate/adviser), prevent the accused cross-examining the accuser or any witnesses, and even prevent the accused presenting any witnesses.

Surely rapes two blocks off campus is a matter for the local police, who presumably have access to things like rape kits and forensic analysis, not to mention something which at least approximates a real detective and some understanding of the concept of criminal justice, and real courts with the power to issue gaol sentences?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Simply claiming rape is enough in most US universities to get someone expelled, no evidence required.

If you think rape on college campuses is not a major problem, then you are not aware of what’s happening. If you think victims are always taken seriously and appropriate investigations are always conducted, then you are not aware of what’s happening.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Can you show me where I said anything remotely like:

* Rape on college campuses is not a major problem.
* Victims are always taken seriously.
* Appropriate investigations are always conducted.

Pretty sure I didn’t say any of those. But claiming that “rape is OK!” in college is a gross misstatement of the facts,

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

So we’ll agree that the problems are somewhere in the middle, then? Actually, I think that boils down to one statement that works both ways:

Accusations of rape on college campuses are too often not investigated appropriately.

That include rapes that actually happened but don’t get investigated and false accusations that get people tossed out of school without an investigation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

ISTM (as an outsider) that rape accusations in US universities are a crapshoot – no-one cares until she[1] reports it to the right official, at which point a “fuck it, he’ll do, if he hasn’t raped anyone yet it is only a matter of time” attitude takes over.

[1] It has been claimed, although I’m not sure if anyone as presented actual evidence of this, that some universities official policy if that if two students (both over 21) have drunk any amount of alcohol no matter how small, even if they did so completely willingly, and have sex (consensually), then the man is guilty of sexual misconduct but the woman is not.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Blaming the parents?

Bashing on parents at the beginning of the post is pretty gratuitous.

You mean this? “In reality, many colleges are helicopter parents” I think you misunderstand. He is accusing colleges of behaving like helicopter parents. Unless you mean it’s inappropriate to even make reference to the fact that there is such a thing as helicopter parents, in which case I don’t know where you’re coming from.

Anonymous Coward says:

University of Oregon , Students a new dawn is approaching, By entering on to this prestigious campuses grounds you have given up all natural rights as Citizens of the United States, This campus Is an Island we are not part of the United States of American and you have no rights ,If you break these rules as laid out ,you will shamed In the public eye ,and beaten mentally until you are in full compliance with our policies.

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:


What butt heads (the University and the complaining couple). The appropriate response to the original jest would have been a raised middle finger and loud FU. Unfortunately, these days our little snowflakes have an exaggerated sense of moral outrage and entitlement, and zero sense of appropriate responses to other asshats they may encounter in their lives. Next? Making a rude comment a felony… Oh, right, it already may be if you make it to someone in authority, like the police.

Anonymous Coward says:

The nation state of UO?

Is the first amendment of the Constitution not valid on the UO campus? I never the got news flash that the UO campus had successfully seceded from the United States. Can somebody please clear that up for me? Is the UO administrator legally a Judge, or even a member of the bar? Who were the prosecutor, defense lawyer and jury members. Somebody call Pope Hat there is a fire on the UO campus that needs to be hosed badly. Did we not just recently, in Cal., get a ruling the right to free speech is certainly valid on PUBLIC property, which includes PUBLIC schools AND colleges? Will someone explain that school rules DO NOT supersede the Constitution of the USA within it’s borders.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

The Limits of Disorderly Conduct

It’s been a matter of twenty-three years since I last walked past Carson Hall at the University of Oregon, but as I recall, the building is set well back from the sidewalk, with a lawn in between. The UO campus is very suburban. I would imagine that these young ladies and gentlemen exchanged compliments at something like the utmost audible range of the human voice. I’m sure that students call to their friends all the time in voices of comparable loudness, and I doubt there was anything resembling a “noise complaint” disturbance, in the sense of something which would distract someone studying, for example. “Noise complaints” generally involve stereos, which can blast out sound at much higher levels than the human voice.

This is a case about insults. “Breach of the peace” (Disorderly conduct, etc.), as lawyers use the term, refers to acts of violence, or acts immediately likely to immediately provoke, incite, involve, or trigger acts of violence, or acts which might reasonably put someone in fear of violence. Peace is defined as the state of not fighting. I am rather doubtful about the application of Breach of the Peace, or Disorderly Conduct, to insults offered under circumstances which practically prevent the parties from coming to grips with each other. The extreme case of this is one anonymous coward in one country insulting another anonymous coward in another country over the internet. The boundary of verbal breach of the peace is defined by cases like Brandenburg vs. Ohio (1969), and this must be adapted to reflect actual distance between the parties.

Now, an insult delivered by stealth, or parthian-shot-fashion in a fugitive state (eg. screamed from a passing car, or from a window of a building) cannot reasonably communicate fear, outside of narrow limits, because the manner of its delivery reveals the insulter’s own fear. The medium is the message, to quote McLuhan. When someone screams an insult at me from a passing car, I may be annoyed, but on reflection, the party is not _man_ enough to get out of his car and say what he said, face to face, and his opinion may be disregarded. Intimidation must stand its ground, or else it admits that its commitment is confined to acts which can be carried out by stealth.

Anonymous Coward says:

The charges

Looking at what the student is charged with:

“Unreasonable noise/community disruption”

For four words? Not unless she used a loudspeaker. Also, just to be clear, this part is a housing contract violation, which leads us to the next section:

“Violation of the university housing contract”

The portion of the contract that they cited in their letter to the student said that the university housing policy applies to guests and that residents are responsible for guest conduct. Maybe because she was visiting the dorm at the time? But the person who violated this section would be whoever invited her to the dorm, and not the student who shouted. To list this as a separate violation is laughable. This is just double-charging.


Doing something once is not harassment. If she shouted this every day, it might rise to that level. It would also be a stretch to say that the comment was because of the couple’s gender or sexual orientation.

“Disrupting university”

Oh, right, I’m sure this one comment, shouted from a dorm (and not a classroom), disrupted the entire learning environment of the university.

“Disorderly conduct”

What you charge someone with when you just don’t think you have enough charges yet.

The student was given two options: face an “administrative panel” whose decision would be final and unable to be appealed (but suspension or expulsion not an option) or face a Student Conduct Panel, which would leave room for appeal but put suspension/expulsion back on the table.

And here is another big problem. Every offense, no matter how minor, carries a punishment anywhere from reprimand to expulsion. The student will probably not be expelled even if she selects the Student Conduct Panel, but why is expulsion even on the table? (And what kind of a screwed-up system leaves the *student* with the option of whether expulsion is on the table?)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The charges

(And what kind of a screwed-up system leaves the *student* with the option of whether expulsion is on the table?)

One that has observed how the DOJ operates, decide on a punishment, and pile on charges to force the victim, sorry accused, to agree to the chosen punishment or risk an even greater punishment.

John85851 (profile) says:

Cover your butt

Look at it from the university’s point of view: if they’re not seen as “doing something”, then the “offended” couple might sue them.
In a rational world, this kind of case wouldn’t get very far, but if the couple got a good lawyer (meaning one who wanted to get money from the school), then the university would have to spend money just to defend itself. So now the university charges the student to prove they have some kind of “zero tolerance” policy so they won’t get sued.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Cover your butt

Look at it from the university’s point of view: if they’re not seen as “doing something”, then the “offended” couple might sue them.

True, but they ALSO might get a lawsuit from the student whose rights they violated. And that one might actually WIN, in which case they’re paying not just their lawyers but a judgement.

Sometimes, when you have the urge to cover your butt, you might want to first make sure that you aren’t UNcovering your front.

Mikee says:

How Smart Universities Handle Such Events

I recall with delight the one time in four years that I was hauled before the Assistant Administrator for Student Housing for a transgression of my University’s rules.

He said an RA had reported me for XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. I admitted the behavior, as I had done it, explained that I had no idea I was breaking a rule at the time I did it, and that I would not do so again if I could possibly avoid doing so.

I got a form letter mailed to me that noted my transgression of University rules, which included the wonderful line “If such behavior is repeated, further measures will be taken.” End of story.

My misbehavior was noted and corrected, no permanent record of a transgression entered my academic file, essentially zero cost was experienced by university, and I learned another way to deal with minor rule violators, which I have used repeatedly in the real world.

When did universities lose their frikkin’ minds?

Klaus G. says:

Hyperbole Much?

The “offended” students who were the brunt of the joke carried this too far, but don’t be fooled by this hyperbolic article and the suggestion that freedom of speech is burning at the UO.

A look to the student conduct code reveals that this isn’t an elective decision by the UO to pursue this complaint – to keep objectivity in the conduct process every complaint against a student results in the UO sending the same type of letter to the accused. This is simply the mandatory notice given to the accused when a complaint is filed.

“OAR 571-021-0200

(2) Notice. Upon receiving a complaint or notice that a Student may have violated the Student Conduct Code, the Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards shall serve a written notice upon the Student, either by electronic mail or by mailing to the latest address of the Student on file at the Office of the Registrar of the University, or, if necessary, by registered or certified mail or by personal service. Such notice shall inform the student of:
(a) The alleged Code violation;
(b) The opportunity for the student to meet with the Director for purposes of discussing the options for disposition of the case;
(c)The Student’s right to assistance. At an administrative conference with the Director, or a hearing by a Hearings Panel or before the Appeals Board, a Student may, but need not represent his or her own interests, or be assisted by someone including but not limited to one of the following representatives:
(A) The Office of Student Advocacy;
(B) Another Student;
(C) A member of the faculty or administration;
(D) A member of the Oregon Bar.

This letter is the mandatory first step in the process of dealing with some easily offended and vindictive students’ complaint. Let’s not get our panties in a bunch and start with the liberal college campuses destroying free speech – just yet.

** I was a panel member on the board that hears student conduct complaints at the UO and there is zero chance in actuality that the accused student will be suspended, expelled, or have a negative notation as a result of this incident. The panels I sat on always heavily considered an accused student’s rights. Many complaints resulted in dismissal or finding a violation (for “actual incidents”) but with limited (write a paper) or no sanctions. **

While “more likely than not” is a low standard, the definition for each conduct code violation (which often include their own standards like “unreasonable”) contain limitations and qualifiers that make the “offended” students’ complaint highly unlikely to succeed.

Read the student conduct code for yourself:

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