Stockton University Reaffirms Charge Against Student Who Used A Trump Background For A Zoom Class

download-1There has been a free speech controversy raging at Stockton University in New Jersey after doctoral student Robert Dailyda was hit by six student code of conduct charges after he used a picture of President Donald Trump as a back drop to a zoom class. Various students called the background a form of hate speech and a threat.  The school has now dropped five of the six charges but the remaining charge still constitutes a denial of free speech on social media.  The school maintains that Dailyda can be disciplined for saying that he would “fight to the death for our country.”Dailyda was originally charged with disruptive behavior; discrimination; harassment; hostile environment; harm; and bullying and cyberbullying. This follow a series of complaints over his use of the Trump background. Students objected that the image of Trump made them “feel offended, disrespected, and taunted.”

The remaining charge relates to a Facebook post in which Dailyda wrote saying that he would “fight to the death for our country.”  The posting was deemed to be disruptive behavior, which can lead to minimum punishments including probation, community service and a fine.

The group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) objected to the University:

“[B]oasting a willingness to ‘fight to the death for our country’ is rhetorical hyperbole often deployed to underscore the speaker’s unwillingness to concede an argument or position. As a public university, Stockton must tread carefully on metaphorical political rhetoric; we hope that this is not the hill Stockton wants to die on.”

I agree with that statement.
The action taken on the Facebook posting is just the latest example of schools investigating or punishment students or faculty for speech on social media. As a blog committed to free speech issues, we can defend students and professors from both the left and the right.
This particular incident magnifies those concerns. Here is the Facebook posting flagged in the Stockton letter linked below:
“I have gotten to the point that I have to say something. I love this country. We are a diverse, yet assimilated population from all backgrounds. I believe all must have the same opportunities and I commit to make that a priority. Beyond that, I am done with the leftist agenda of BLM and the white self haters. I have seen it in action in my doctoral classes at Stockton and the general media. I’m not backing down. If we can’t get past this, ok, I’m ready to fight to the death for our county and against those that want to take it down. I believe there are also many like me.”
That is all protected speech.  However, Stockton noted that there was a comment that was not written or responded to by Dailyda as the basis for possible discipline:
This post generated comments, one which was of concern in response to Mr. Dailyda saying “I’m surprised how many people are quiet…maybe not…”, this post stated “Bob Dailyda that’s what we do. (Quiet) but …we aim with precision. Boom done. No drama.” This response was not written or responded to by Mr. Dailyda but the reporting parties did mention the words sounded threatening and they were concerned that Mr. Dailyda may have similar views and thoughts of violence.
So Dailyda is being investigated for a comment left by someone else?  Google recently used this as part of its rationale for cracking down on conservative sites. As we have discussed previously, many sites have eliminated their comments section because of trolls, paid or bot comments, or offensive speech.  As one of the larger sites committed to free speech issues, we have resisted this trend to be open a forum for people to express themselves.  We have tried to respond to complaints about offensive speech and in relatively few cases we have barred those who engage in such commentary.  However, our comment section allows people to express their views and, while I often disagree with comments, I have tried not to censor them. Indeed, I routinely leave comments that insult me or say things that are demonstrably untrue about my past writings or testimony.  The reason is that I feel uncomfortable with the role of censoring, particularly when I am the subject of the criticism.
This type of action would allow individuals to place offensive comments on blogs or in social media for the purpose of triggering such actions. With tens of thousands of comments on blogs like Res Ipsa, there is a lower chance of detection.  However, even if detected, why should Dailyda be investigated for a comment that he neither made nor supported?  My assumption is that many of Dailyda’s critics have comments that are equally reckless or threatening. However, those comments are not being addressed.  The concern is that schools like Stockton work too hard to find grounds for disciplining conservative students or faculty while turning a blind eye to similar rhetoric from those opposing them. The answer is free speech. To allow people to speak freely, including denouncing such postings as part of a free and open debate.
Stockton needs to drop this final charge against Dailyda and reaffirm the principles of free speech that sustain higher education.

Here is the Dailyda letter detailing the complaint on the Facebook posting: Stockton letter

68 thoughts on “Stockton University Reaffirms Charge Against Student Who Used A Trump Background For A Zoom Class”

  1. Thanks for the support JT! They dropped all charges, but my status as a doctoral student is still up in the air.

    1. it is not mental illness it is socially harmful “will to power” in action

      they are an American “red guard” political faction which seek to intimidate moderate citizens into silence before their radical plans to enslave us all

      1. Mr Kurtz wrote, “it is not mental illness it is socially harmful “will to power” in action

        they are an American “red guard” political faction which seek to intimidate moderate citizens into silence before their radical plans to enslave us all

        I think it’s interesting that you don’t attribute any mental illness whatsoever to those that you say “intimidate moderate citizens into silence” but that’s ok, you’re welcome to your opinion.

        Also; you might want to reread what I wrote and the blog post I shared, I’m not saying these people are mentally ill. Actually I’m more inclined to think that they’ve been societal brainwashed as I talk about in the blog post titled Ignorance or Societal Brainwashing?

        Brainwashing ≠ Mental Illness

  2. This is pure bigotry, and harassment of a conservative student.

    If the university takes the stance that being a Republican is a hate crime, then they need to update their marketing materials, and require all incoming students to be Democrats. They should also lose all federal funding.

    Any university that has a student body uneducated enough to believe that voting Republican, or expressing Republican politics, is hate speech, then it has failed to produce students capable of basic critical reasoning.

    Universities across the country are harassing conservative students. It has become expected for invited conservative speakers to be threatened, harassed, and every effort made to cancel them. Should any university that is openly bigoted against conservatives, selectively denying them free speech, receive federal funds, or even grants? I do not want my tax dollars going to an education system that is biased against conservatives. That is like free money to the DNC. The purpose of universities appears to have veered away from producing graduates with marketable degrees and higher learning, to simply turning out more Democrat voters.

    1. Karen, if they are biased political operations, which seems obvious now, then these universities should lose their 501c3 exemptions.

      A Congressional inquiry should be made into them which will prove the point

      The IRS could take it from there

      Or if stronger measures are feasible., seize their assets as RICO enterprises

      these tools could be put into action. we have seen crazy things this year, but the crazy can come from directions that previously have been moderate and self limiting

      well, self limiting should be tossed out the window by those who want to survive, most of all, the law abiding hard working citizens of the heartland, who should strike back viciously at the american administrative and bureaucratic elites who are trying to silence us all.

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