Student Suspended After Advocating for the Right to Carry a Concealed Weapon
October 10, 2007
by Luke Sheahan
FIRE wrote to President Hanson on May 29, 2007, vehemently opposing the sanctions against Scheffler, since neither of Scheffler’s e-mails even came close to meeting the legal definition of a “threat.” FIRE also pointed out that Hamline maintains a “Freedom of Expression and Inquiry” policy that encourages the public expression of opinions and the freedom to examine and discuss all questions of interest. FIRE wrote that “it is difficult to reconcile these admirable commitments to freedom of expression with Hamline’s hasty actions against Scheffler.”FIRE also informed Hamline administrators that subjecting Scheffler to a mandatory psychological evaluation poses a grave threat to liberty at Hamline. FIRE wrote, “A psychological evaluation, to be overseen by a Hamline administrator, is one of the most invasive and disturbing intrusions upon Scheffler’s individual right to private conscience imaginable. Because Scheffler has shown no proclivity toward violence and has made no threatening comments, this psychological evaluation seeks to assess his political opinions….”Hanson responded to FIRE on June 11, 2007, claiming that there were several reasons for Scheffler’s suspension, including the e-mails, his failure to meet with administrators when invited, and “critical input from various members of the Hamline community.” FIRE addressed each of those claims in another letter to Hanson on September 17, 2007. Not only did FIRE reiterate that Scheffler’s e-mails were not threats, but it also pointed out that Scheffler was given less than one full business day before his suspension to respond to the invitation from school officials to discuss his views. FIRE also noted that the alleged information from “various members of the Hamline community,” which supposedly played a role in determining Scheffler’s sanctions, had not even been revealed to Scheffler himself, denying him the right to defend himself or present his side of the story. In a September 28, 2007, response, Hamline’s attorneys refused to address FIRE’s concerns that Scheffler has been denied his due process rights.