Tulsa University Bans Student From Campus For Someone Else's Facebook Posts

from the feelings-were-hurt,-therefore-vindictive-stupidity dept

Nothing generates bad press quite like overreaction, and Tulsa University (OK) is busy making itself look vindictive and stupid. How does it handle critical Facebook posts directed at its staff? By punishing the student who didn't write them and following that up with an attempt to silence critics of its terrible disciplinary decision.

In a triple blow to free speech, due process, and freedom of the press, the University of Tulsa (TU) arbitrarily banned a student from campus until 2016 for Facebook posts that someone else admitted to writing and then attempted to intimidate student journalists who were trying to cover the story.
Student George "Trey" Barnett's husband, Chris Magnum (posting under the name "Christopher Blackstone"), posted comments critical of TU staff to Barnett's Facebook page, tagging Barnett in the process. Despite the fact that Barnett didn't write the posts and Magnum provided a sworn affidavit attesting to his authorship, the university went after Barnett.
[S]hortly after TU professor Susan Barrett filed a complaint against Barnett arguing that Barnett could not “avoid responsibility” because someone else was responsible for the posts, TU Senior Vice Provost Winona Tanaka imposed eight restrictive interim measures against Barnett. The sanctions included suspending his participation in certain courses and activities and even barring him from speaking about certain individuals.
Further steps in the disciplinary process were sidestepped in TU's push to punish Barnett for something he didn't write. According to school policies, Barnett was entitled to a hearing prior to the meting out of disciplinary actions, but the university refused to follow its own rules. Instead, it claimed Barnett was somehow "responsible" for the insults and criticisms written by his significant other and asserted that he was just "hiding behind" this "excuse" to avoid being punished.

The university's disciplinary memo shows a clear lack of understanding of how Facebook works. The memo states that Barnett (already wrong) posted these comments on his page, when in fact, they were posted to his page by someone else. These are very different actions, even if they may look the same to those unfamiliar with Facebook's posting mechanisms. Yes, the posts would have shown up on Barnett's page, but it should have been easily apparent these were not posted from Barnett's account.

While the posts were certainly negative and verging on defamatory (one instructor is referred to as "morbidly obese," and that's about the nicest thing that's said; another is accused of being corrupt and the word "racketeering" is carelessly deployed), they were not written by the student who was ultimately punished for them. The university had a sworn affidavit in its possession from the actual author, but it wasn't interested in facts. Not only is Barnett suspended, but he is banned from campus until 2016. And he won't be earning a degree from TU even after he's allowed to return to campus, making his prior investment in his theater degree wasted money.

Beyond its vindictive actions towards Barnett, the university also went after its student paper for daring to question its wrongheaded decision.
TU has also threatened the expressive rights of the staff of its independent student newspaper, The Collegian, which this week reported on Barnett’s suspension and criticized his treatment. The Collegian reports that after contacting TU administrators for comment, student reporters were told by TU’s director of marketing and communications that if “anything that the university deems to be confidential” is “published or shared, (that) could violate university policies.” The university refused to explain what might constitute “confidential” information and, come press time, the journalists were unsure what action the university might take against them.
Strange behavior for a university that claims its students are guaranteed "the rights and privileges granted citizens by the Bill of Rights." So far, the university has attacked students' free speech and arbitrarily stripped away the due process its own policies promise to students facing discipline. So much for that "guarantee."

FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has issued its a statement condemning TU's actions:
“TU students are right to be concerned about their free speech and due process rights, given the university’s sheer vindictiveness in banishing Barnett and its treatment of their student newspaper,” said Bonilla. “We’ve warned TU about its dangerously overbroad harassment policy before, yet it continues to fly in the face of its promise that students retain ‘the rights and privileges granted to all citizens in the Bill of Rights.’ The university needs to be held accountable for breaking that promise.”
"Held accountable" likely means a lawsuit is in the works, as the university has shown no interest in rolling back its decision. A memo issued sixty days after Barnett's appeal states -- without accompanying explanations for its findings -- that all of his complaints (lack of due process, the school's decision is unsupported by the accompanying facts, etc.) are "without merit" and that the ban will remain in place. Its unwillingness to recognize the many flaws of its decision are likely going to cost it some money down the road. Standing its ground when it's so clearly in the wrong will have a chilling effect on its student body, which now knows any attendee can be punished for the actions of others.

The backlash to all of this didn't take long at all to rub the supersensitive university the wrong way. Prolific twitterer, revenge porn nemesis and erstwhile provocateur Adam Steinbaugh headed to Tulsa University's Facebook page to ask it about its stupidity, highlighting how easy it was for someone to post to someone else's Facebook page.


This post was swiftly deleted by the page admin. So, Steinbaugh asked again. This too was deleted, as were related questions and comments from others. Finally, the TU Facebook admin went full nuclear ostrich and just deleted everything posted by others to its page, whether it involved the university's vindictive discipline of Barnett or not.

Before:


After:


Nothing says you're wholly in the right quite like a deliberate and proactive avoidance of any discussion on the matter, eh Tulsa?

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Filed Under: chris magnum, free speech, george barnett, overreaction, social media, suspension, threats
Companies: facebook, university of tulsa


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  • identicon
    CEP, 18 Feb 2015 @ 6:17am

    Too late

    "making his prior investment in his theater degree wasted money."

    That ship sailed long before this incident started.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DSchneider (profile), 18 Feb 2015 @ 9:44am

      Re: Too late

      Came to say the same thing...Preventing him from getting his Degree!!! Outrage.... wait he was a theater major? This may be a blessing in disguise.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 6:23am

    People still use Facebook?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    S. T. Stone (profile), 18 Feb 2015 @ 6:27am

    College: where boys become men, girls become women, and administrators become chickens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 7:28am

      Re:

      Used to be that way. Now they're more and more frequently turning out SJW snowflakes who can't hack it in the real world. This isn't surprising at all. College has slowly been becoming not a place for learning, discussion and debate. It's being transformed into a place of indoctrination and coddling.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Josh (profile), 18 Feb 2015 @ 6:30am

    Easy solution

    Friend all the professors and the university facebook pages.
    Post on all their pages the exact same thing.
    Demand the same treatment for all of them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 6:42am

    Boilerplate, but it's still funny. From TU's Facebook ToS:

    Comments posted by others do not reflect the opinions of the University of Tulsa.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 7:44am

    give a nutjob a little power and they lash out at everyone they can.

    Bet the students feel so much safer with these sociopaths running their school

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 7:50am

    They went full retard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 18 Feb 2015 @ 7:51am

    The University of Tulsa, where you will enjoy free (redacted)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 8:27am

    Universities are a beacon to what happens to liberty under their idea of democracy.

    The crowd that preaches tolerance is the most intolerant of all!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 8:35am

    It's not "Tulsa University"

    The article repeatedly mangles the name of the school.

    It's proper name is "The University of Tulsa", as seen in the quotes. There is no "Tulsa University". They and everybody do use "TU" as an acronym, because in the region "UT" is the University of Texas.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jonr (profile), 18 Feb 2015 @ 9:35am

    Erstwhile?

    There's nothing "erstwhile" about Adam's being a provocateur; as this no doubt shows, he still is one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris, 18 Feb 2015 @ 9:47am

    Um you got a little bit of info wrong on this article. I did not refer to a professor as morbidly obese, it was a student who is a bully and I just let her have it. Its not defaming when it is true.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 9:54am

    Oh look something about Oklahoma! But it is also about facebook, men ... I'll go ahead a click on it.

    Read.
    Read.
    Read.

    "Student George "Trey" Barnett's husband .."

    *yawn*

    Totally don't care anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 10:13am

      Re:

      You're upset he's already spoken for?

      Don't worry, there's plenty of other guys out there, and I'm sure some of them will have low enough self esteem to go out with you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 18 Feb 2015 @ 10:46am

      Re:

      Oh so you are in support of the idea that a less desirable group of people isn't entitled to the same rights as everyone else?

      I might think you are a flaming asshole, but I still believe you have the right to say really fucking stupid things (and be mocked for doing so).

      When one ignores these sorts of situations because they feel the victim is somehow deserving of the situation, they seem to ignore that the next time, they could be the less desirable who should just accept being mistreated.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Pragmatic, 19 Feb 2015 @ 6:19am

        Re: Re:

        What you mean assholes?

        Yep, they certainly are a less desirable group. Kudos for your tolerance, TAC. I struggle to care for them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Pronounce (profile), 18 Feb 2015 @ 11:26am

    This Can't Be The Exception

    Their actions make believe that this is the norm for T.U.. I wonder how much other dirt is covered up there. In recent news (last couple of months) many schools have been found to harbor sexual predators. Some schools don't report (this I know first hand) and so I'm guessing there is much more dirt at this school then a bit of Streisand-ish behavior over a troll post.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zonker, 18 Feb 2015 @ 11:28am

    So who wants to post and tag the selfie of Maxwell Marion Morton with his murder victim Ryan Mangan on both TU professor Susan Barrett's and TU Senior Vice Provost Winona Tanaka's Facebook page so they can both be arrested and charged with murder?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crashsuit (profile), 18 Feb 2015 @ 2:46pm

    typo

    I've found a small misprint.

    "Tulsa University (OK" -> "Tulsa University (NOT OK)"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 3:13pm

    So that should have read "Facebook, meh." but I guess it was auto-corrected. It kind of changes the intent of the post somewhat, but not really.

    From my POV this all happened because "Chris" here thought that using social media in general was a good ideal. Then it comes out that he is so-called married the "victim".

    Whatever.

    I have so many other things that are far more important to me than to have to spend any energy whatsoever on this tempest in a teapot.

    For what it is worth, I also think that trying resolve conflicts with a bullet is about as useless as gay marriage. And if any of that runs counter to your perception of what is important, so be it. Heh. I just really don't care.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 3:54pm

      Re:

      You seem to find it vitally important that we all know and understand just how little energy you're interested in spending on this topic, and how little you care about it.

      In the same vein, I have no interest whatsoever in bothering to quote a Scandinavian prince regarding a certain lady and her excessive protestations.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 4:51pm

    "making his prior investment in his theater degree wasted money."

    I think we can all agree this money was wasted before this happened.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 5:41pm

    What a bunch of cocksuckers

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 18 Feb 2015 @ 10:03pm

    That's some go-for-broke authoritarian "reasoning" there.

    I also like the lateral support they get from other "reasoning" sorts who find it doesn't matter since there is a male married couple and also a theater degree involved. I guess this is such an overwhelmingly bad set of characteristics for the situation that we couldn't be bothered to go all apeshit over the fact that two of these named authoritarian nutbags are women. This usually gets a lot of traction. (And usually when there is no authoritarianism involved.)

    Funny, that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    res (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 10:28am

    Tulsa U's incapacity to be in the 21st century

    It looks like they get their incredible decision making abilities from the NSA or the TSA or Congress or some other government body that has no clue whose country it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Long John Dickns, 18 Jul 2017 @ 7:09pm

    0 f**ks givn

    So I actually stumbled across this after going into a wine and spirit store In south Tulsa "Trey's wine and spirits" which is apparently owned by this couple . " I wasn't impressed the selection was moot at best" a co-worker told me about this story after I told them about how one of the guys working there was eye-goggling me like a candy cane. flattering but creepy. I then of course was at work on the toilet and had some leisure time to kill and read up on this story. All I can say is F***ing Millennials can't do anything without wining and moan**g grow a pair. both of them. I mean seriously 0 f**ks givn to these morons. and who gets a theatre degree these days ? is that even useful ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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