Victory: Occidental College settles free speech lawsuit with wronged student
October 22, 2007
Family Security Matters
FIRE soon received a response from Occidental General Counsel Sandra Cooper that flatly distorted and misrepresented facts and implied, without a shred of evidence, that Antebi had committed a variety of serious offenses including vandalizing cars and making harassing phone calls. On
Amid this controversy, Occidental College President Ted Mitchell announced his decision to dissolve the student government, of which Antebi was a vice president. While Mitchell did not refer to Antebi by name, virtually all of the reasons he gave for closing down the student government were directly related to the Antebi controversy. Shortly thereafter, Occidental found Antebi guilty of “sexual and gender hostile environment harassment,” ignoring both the college’s promises to defend free speech and California’s “Leonard Law,” which guarantees free speech to students at private colleges and universities in California.
Antebi’s lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in 2005, accused Occidental of committing a variety of offenses against him, the most obvious being the violation of his free speech rights. Antebi’s complaint also asked for declaratory relief that would strike down the Occidental policies that allowed Antebi to be found guilty of sexual harassment for his on-air comments.
The complaint explained that Occidental officials “blatantly misrepresented the facts of Plaintiff’s situation, in a knowing and malicious attempt to prevent civil liberties groups and other potential supporters from coming to his defense. The College’s Dean of Students, General Counsel and other university officials painted Plaintiff as a racist, criminal, drug pusher, advocate of violence, unethical student representative, and as a person responsible for an atmosphere of terror on campus in which women were ‘unable to concentrate, sleep, or even walk across campus without fear.’”
“With regard to the settlement, I can’t say much, but I will say that I am very happy with the outcome,” Antebi said. “It is clear to me that Occidental used the controversy surrounding my show as a pretense for dissolving the student government. I believe FIRE’s original investigation into this is dead-on accurate. I don’t believe it is a coincidence that many of those named in the lawsuit are no longer employed by
FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty at
With the corrosive atmosphere at most colleges today, we can thank God that organizations like FIRE exist.
- Victory: Occidental College Settles Free Speech Lawsuit with Wronged Student, PDF, 171.7 KB , Family Security Matters