Advocates are calling the suspension ofJohns Hopkins University student Justin Park a serious threat to students’rights after he was found guilty of violating the university’santi-harassment policies and was suspended for one year for posting acontroversial Halloween party announcement online.
Last month, Parkposted an advertisement on the social networking Web site Facebook.com for theSigma Chi fraternity’s “Halloween in the Hood” party. Anadministrator from the university’s Greek Affairs office asked Park toremove the posting after several students said it was offensive. Park complied,but later put up another announcement after receiving inquiries whether theparty would still take place.
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SPLCView: Like the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case, above, this incident also raisesquestions about just how much control school officials should have over theprivate, off-campus lives of their students. A big difference in this case isthat Johns Hopkins is a private school, whose administrators — who are notstate officials — are not bound by the First Amendment constraints thatlimit government interference with speech. Still, it looks as though the schoolhad voluntarily adopted a policy that protects student speech that the studenthere may seek to enforce.