Georgia regents reverse expulsion of Valdosta student punished after protesting parking garage

The Board of Regents for the University System of Georgia Jan. 16overturned the expulsion of a student who was kicked out after publiclyprotesting plans — championed by Valdosta State University’s president— for a new parking garage on campus. To support their charge thatsophomore T. Hayden Barnes posed an imminent threat of violence, Valdosta Stateofficials cited a cartoon Barnes had posted on his personal Facebook page, inwhich he depicted a “Memorial Parking Deck” named for the university president,suggesting (in VSU’s view) that the president’s death was impending. TheRegents vote came less than a week after Barnes filed a federal lawsuitchallenging his expulsion.

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SPLC View: Yet another case of administrative censorship that fallsinto our “You Gotta Be Kidding Me” file. When one hears of cases like this— kicking a student out of school for lawfully protesting a campusconstruction project that the college president wanted — the firstreaction is relief that cooler heads ultimately prevailed. The second reaction,however, is wondering how on earth professional educators at a state institutionof higher education — whom one would presume have read and understand theFirst Amendment — would do something like this.