Johns Hopkins University
June 18, 2007
Johns Hopkins University earned its Red Alert designation by suspending eighteen-year-old junior Justin Park for posting an “offensive” Halloween party invitation on the popular social networking site Facebook.com. Because some found the invitation racially offensive, Park was charged with and found guilty of “harassment,” “intimidation,” and “failing to respect the rights of others.” Although later reduced in the face of public pressure, Park’s original punishment included suspension from the university until January 2008; completion of 300 hours of community service; an assignment to read 12 books and to write a reflection paper on each; and mandatory attendance at a workshop on diversity and race relations. Johns Hopkins President William Brody made matters worse shortly after Park’s suspension by introducing a new and chillingly broad “civility” code prohibiting “rude, disrespectful behavior” at the university, and by stating in an article in the December 11, 2006 issue of The JHU Gazette that speech that is “tasteless” or that breaches standards of “civility” will not be allowed.