NEW YORK — A Bard College student may face disciplinarycharges after an article on his publication’s website made crude remarksabout a female student.
Lucian Wintrich started a website called The Bard Tribune earlier thissemester. He said he created it because he was dissatisfied with thecollege’s student newspaper.
The Bard Tribune accepts submissions from anyone who creates an account onthe website, Wintrich said. Writers are also not allowed to use their realnames. The publication includes a mix of news, commentary and satire.
An anonymous poster published a wine recipe on the website which made severallewd comments about a named female student. Wintrich said the student contactedhim and asked him to take down the article. He obliged, but when he called thestudent to tell her he had taken down the article, she told him she had alreadyinformed the university.
Wintrich later reposted the article with the woman’s name redacted.
After being informed by school officials that he was facing disciplinaryaction for sexual harassment, Wintrich was told to meet with an attorney representingthe school.
Once the meeting concluded, Wintrich said the lawyer would not give anyindication about how the school may decide his fate. He said the conversationseemed to shift away from the sexual harassment charge and toward defamation.
“She was talking to me about defamation of different … people atBard through the publication,” he said.
However, he said the other articles the lawyer mentioned were”obviously political satire.”
Wintrich said he was told the university would make a decision on his fateFriday. However, he had yet to hear as of press time.
Mike Hiestand, consulting attorney for the Student Press Law Center, saidWintrich acted responsibly in his handling of the situation when he removed thestudent’s name after he heard about the article.
“There’s really nothing, legally, that he can be heldaccountable for,” he said.
Hiestand added, however, that because Bard College is a privateinstitution, students are not given the same First Amendment protections ofthose at public universities.
“But at a private school, you know, the law doesn’t always seemto matter to them,” he said.
Hiestand called the sexual harassment charge”ridiculous.”
Hiestand said the university should not go after Wintrich because he didnot write the article, but simply provided the forum.
“There’s no justification for charging Lucian, who had nothingto do with writing this piece, with sexual harassment,” he said.
Officials from Bard College did not respond to multiple calls seekingcomment.
Before the disputed article, Wintrich said the policy was for anyone whowrote an article to be able to publish his or her story immediately. However,after the trouble with the article, the publication polices have changed.Wintrich said he or one of the other editors must approve the article before itis put on the website.