Poll: Did Montclair State overreact by suspending a student for comments on social media websites?
January 17, 2013
The Jersey Journal
A Weehawken man has been suspended a semester from Montclair State University over derogatory comments he made about a woman on Youtube.com and Facebook.com, according to a Star-Ledger report on NJ.com.
The graduate student, Joe Aziz, has said he regrets the comments, but a simple apology apparently is not enough for the school.
As we all know, "trolling," or posting negative comments online, is as old as the Internet. There are some NJ.com readers how have turned into an art form.
So it's easy to cheer the state college for doing something about some hurtful comments toward one of its students. The college decided to suspend the 26-year-old Aziz and also demanded that he not have any contact with the woman or talk about her on the Internet.
A victory in the fight against bullies? Not everyone sees it that way. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says administrators at Montclair State overstepped their authority.
The group says the school has no authority to order anyone not to mention another person's name on the Internet. Aziz evened questions if his First Amendment rights have been violated.
"Freedom of speech and due process are basic rights that we have come to expect as Americans," Aziz told the Star-Ledger. "I hope my story draws attention to the fact that these rights can be violated by broad, overreaching university codes of conduct."
The Star-Ledger reports the entire episode started in August when a group to which Aziz belongs brought former gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan to campus to speak. A woman and a man heckled Lonegan at the event and Aziz commented on the two of them in a Youtube.com post, which has since been removed.
After Aziz was ordered by the school to avoid contact with the woman, he made a comment on Facebook.com in which he mentioned the woman's name. Aziz, who has said he though the Facebook comment was private, was then called in by administrators -- who had been alerted to the comment -- and Aziz was suspended.