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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

    Glen, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 2:47pm

    Sad to see but it seems like institutions for higher learning are not the place to exchange differing viewpoints.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    limbodog (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 2:49pm

    It is particularly sad that our institutions of higher learning are some of the worst abusers of our freedom of speech. What lesson should students gain from this, I wonder?


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    S. T. Stone, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 2:50pm

    ACC apparently forgot that the First Amendment neither guarantees immunity from criticism nor protects only popular/‘safe’ speech.

    For an institution with the word ‘college’ in its name, ACC seems woefully undereducated.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Beech, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 2:55pm

    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.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    KRA, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 3:28pm


    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.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 3:28pm

    Gee, I guess some of this school's administration must have skipped History class when they were in school and they went over constitutional rights


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 3:36pm

    i hope he sues the college! it seems as if all those in USA that have a bit of authority:

    a) dont know how to handle it

    b) want to exercise their authority in dictatorial ways


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Anon, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 3:55pm


    At my University, there is a students bill of rights that says they can't kick you out without trial by other students. Or if you're delinquent on your tuition payments.

    If you're enough threat to kick out, then you'll be arrested by real police.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Coyne Tibbets (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:29pm


    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.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    art guerrilla (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:29pm


    sad to see, but what is exposed, is the iron fist beneath the velvet glove of Empire, which most definitely includes the 'education system'...
    the point is NOT the greater glory and self-actualization of every single snowflake; BUT to prepare obedient droids in unquestioning service to empire...
    silly wabbit...


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 6:08pm

    More Leftist bullies.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Eric Stein, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 7:44pm

    Check the site for the organization. is a group of current and former military and LE people and civilians whose 10 most important rules are about what they will NOT do. You could read this list as paranoia if you're in government, but I think most of us here would say it's just ten things we wouldn't put past our government.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Pawn to d4, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 9:27pm

    A novel belief

    In a fit of "academic" thinking tainted with contradiction and tyranny, ACC has, it seems, demonstrated its belief in discretionary due process involving impartial panels and no technical rules of evidence.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 2:47am

    Colleges usually care more about keeping their political and fanacial sponsors happy, than they care about making their students smart and critical thinkers.
    Oh...and please don't teach them about the Streisand Effect...


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    toyotabedzrock (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 9:26am

    On campus they expect civil discussion. When you start personal attacks you are silencing others.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    nasch (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 11:13am


    When you start personal attacks you are silencing others.

    How does calling someone a snake silence anyone?


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 11:24am


    I'm with nasch. When you start personal attacks, it means that you've stopped making your point (and that you've probably lost the debate). It doesn't silence anyone at all -- it just encourages people to discount the one who made the personal attacks.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    nasch (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re:

    When you start personal attacks, it means that you've stopped making your point (and that you've probably lost the debate).

    Agreed. In this case the governor pretty much ended the debate by getting into his car, but the personal attack was at best unnecessary.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    That One Guy (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 12:24pm

    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.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    TomRoyce (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 12:26pm

    The 60s and 70s Generation Turns Autocratic

    The rules that the administrators enforce with an iron glove are the same ones they have fought tooth and nail when they attended school.

    This is the result of the empowerment philosophy.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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