Colorado College Suspends Student and Bars Entry For Two Years For An Anonymous Joke on Yik Yak

200px-Colorado_College_sealWe have another controversy over the regulation of speech on college campuses this week. Thaddeus Pryor has been suspended and banned from Colorado College for two years after he sent an anonymous reply on social media that was meant as a joke. Regardless of the fact that the joke was insulting and decidedly unfunny, it was an anonymous comment made by a student on the social media site Yik Yak without the use of university equipment or involvement. As such, it raises serious free speech implications in my view.

Rochelle Mason PhotoIn November 2015, Thaddeus Pryor sent an anonymous reply to the comment “#blackwomenmatter” on Yik Yak. Pryor’s response read, “They matter, they’re just not hot.” After posting the comment, Pryor was summoned to the office of Senior Associate Dean of Students Rochelle T. Mason. He did not lie and admitted to being the author of the posting.

The anonymous comment was deemed by the college as violating its rules on “Abusive Behavior” and “Disruption of College Activities” policies. The school invoked the right to punish any speech that ” produces ridicule, embarrassment, harassment, intimidation or other such result.” That is remarkably sweeping when it included embarrassment or “other such result.” Not only was he suspended and banned from campus but he was barred from taking classes at other institutions for academic credit. Pryor has appealed his suspension.

Yik_Yak_green_logo.svgThe College is not a state actor so it is not covered by the First Amendment. However, that does not lessen the free speech implications of a college regulating and punishing the speech of students or faculty on social media. There appears little consideration of the free speech implications in this decision or the definition of a line for students to determine when a comment, even an anonymous comment, could be deemed embarrassing or produce “other such result.” The result is a chilling effect on speech that is inimical to our academic mission in my view.

What do you think?

57 thoughts on “Colorado College Suspends Student and Bars Entry For Two Years For An Anonymous Joke on Yik Yak”

  1. If they are going to expel guys for deciding who is not hot, then all colleges are going to be all-girl. Most men and women have their preferences for who they think is “hot.” For example, some African American women get angry when African American men date white women. Some people only date Latinos, some only date skinny people, some only date people over 6 feet. We are allowed to have an opinion on what we think is beautiful or attractive.

    How did they find out who wrote an anonymous posting?

    This is an infringement on Free Speech.

  2. I want to know what Thaddeus, namesake Richard Pryor would have to say about that. He was not known for his politically correct opinions either. Since they are black they don’t get called racist. I salute the memory of Richard Pryor. He said that some people perpetuates the N word– listen and see who he said perpetuates its use.

  3. James Madison on modifying the Constitution –

    June 8, 1789

    “I should be unwilling to see a door opened…because I doubt,… if we should be very likely to stop at that

    point which would be safe…”

  4. 1st Amendment

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

  5. Good countries or civilizations on Planet Earth, come and go. The Roman Empire, came and went. Now America is going down into the sewer.

  6. Just because one is in a private college, one has no free speech rights? or due process either it seems. It is appalling how the rights Americans have believed in and fought for are being so easily discarded by Millennials! (see: Measuring millennials’ support for censorship … )

    The one consolation I have is that, being over 70, I won’t have to hang around to see the dismal end this trend will bring.

  7. Want to see a fight live? Rosebud Sioux Tribe, SD is in session, special council meeting is live now. Health care is the issue.

  8. So two score people screaming insults in your face is not intimidating, but a trollish one liner on social media from someone you don’t know and are unlikely to ever meet is?

    What a country.

  9. “Fly over and flush” is a phrase I picked up on this blog. I mean, flush the airplane toilet out of the plane and onto the territory below.

  10. As usual Hildegard, we are virtually blessed to have your ‘unique’ perspective. BTW, how are those anger management classes going?

  11. So everyone now has the right to be hot. Or at least the right not to be told otherwise.

  12. As usual virtually everyone here misses the big picture. “Political Correctness” is a tool of the Global Elite to create division among us by destroying the 1st amendment (and the rest) and I can see the pawns here there and everywhere are gobbling it up like good little dupes. The entire “black lives matter” movement is funded by NGO’s of “progressive liberal” billionaire George Soros and OTHERS. The same George Soros who helped fund the coup in Ukraine. The same George Soros who loves nothing more than assisting the the criminal U.S. Govt. in destabilizing countries (including our own) the world over so they can bring in the New World Order. Do you really need at this point to be spoon fed this information? You can look it up yourself. And don’t expect me to argue with anyone or provide links, videos, PROOF because I’m done wasting my time on that. If you want to continue in your stupor go for it, otherwise you can look the sh*t up yourself. Have a nice day.

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