Hinds Community College: Student Barred from Class

Category: Due Process, Free Speech
Schools: Hinds Community College

On March 29, 2010, Hinds Community College (HCC) student Isaac Rosenbloom complained to a fellow student following class that his grade in the course was “going to f— up my entire GPA.” After overhearing this comment, Rosenbloom’s professor, Barbara Pyle, threatened him with “detention” and submitted a disciplinary complaint against Rosenbloom. HCC found Rosenbloom guilty of “flagrant disrespect” and issued him twelve “demerits,” just three short of suspension, and involuntarily withdrew him from Pyle’s course, causing him to lose his financial aid eligibility. After HCC failed to respond to FIRE’s initial letter, FIRE obtained the assistance of attorneys Robert B. McDuff and Sibyl Byrd, who took up Rosenbloom’s case and secured a settlement in his favor in July 2010, allowing him to resume his training as a paramedic. Unfortunately, HCC continues to maintain an unconstitutional ban on “public profanity, cursing and vulgarity.”

  • Student says f-word outside of class, college nearly ruins his career

    April 12, 2013

    Ted Balaker says: “A 30-year-old college student, husband and father of two, studying to be a paramedic says ‘fuck’ outside of class, and his professor gets offended. She threatens him with detention (he’s 30!), the administration boots him from the class and nearly ruins his career.” “I was persecuted by my college for saying the word ‘fuck’ in conversation with another student after class.” In 2010, Isaac Rosenbloom was a student at Hinds Community College in Mississippi. He was disappointed to receive a grade of “74” on an exam, and after class ended he walked outside and complained to a […]

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  • Free-speech policies questioned

    August 16, 2010

    Students at Mississippi universities may have to watch what they say more than those in other states because of policies that free-speech advocates say are oppressive. At Ole Miss, someone could theoretically get in trouble for sending an e-mail about how much they “hate” rival Mississippi State. Jackson State students could be punished for unsolicited flirting. Speaking freely outside so-called “free-speech zones” on most of the campuses could get students in trouble, even though a federal court has deemed that unconstitutional. Adam Kissel, of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said the nonprofit group hears from hundreds of college […]

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  • Miss.: First in football, last in free speech?

    August 8, 2010

    August 8, 2010 Consider the cases of Jeremiah Masoli and Isaac Rosenbloom, two college students in Mississippi. How do they compare? Masoli, 21, is the former University of Oregon quarterback who was kicked off the team after being caught with marijuana following his suspension for pleading guilty to second-degree burglary charges. Rosenbloom is a 29-year-old father of two who was kicked out of a college class and almost lost his financial aid for saying a bad word. A pretty pass Masoli will now attend the University of Mississippi, where he may become the Rebels’ starting quarterback and help Ole Miss […]

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  • Slip of tongue prompts campus speech debate

    August 1, 2010

    Isaac Rosenbloom never thought saying the F-word would get him in so much trouble, especially at this point in his life. The 29-year-old father of two let the word slip as he was leaving class at Hinds Community College one day, and he was disciplined in a way that nearly cost him his financial aid. “I didn’t intend on this happening,” he said. “Even as students, we have the right to free speech.” Last week, Hinds reversed its punishment for Rosenbloom after he contacted an attorney and drew national attention to the public college’s free speech policy. The reversal has […]

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  • College in Mississippi Withdraws Penalties Against Student Who Swore

    July 28, 2010

    A community college in Mississippi has dropped penalties against a student for using a profanity after learning he had received a poor grade on a tardy assignment. The student, Isaac Rosenbloom, said in an interview that Hinds Community College sent a letter on Tuesday stating that he would “not suffer any future consequences” related to the March 29 incident. Mr. Rosenbloom and a few other students had remained after a speech class one day to discuss their grades with the instructor, Barbara Pyle. Upon seeing that he had received a score of 74 on the late assignment, Mr. Rosenbloom testified […]

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  • When students drop the F-bomb

    May 19, 2010

    At Hinds Community College, swearing can get you in trouble. “Public profanity, cursing and vulgarity” are all punishable with a $25 fine for a first offense, and a $50 fine for a second offense. Further, the offense of “flagrant disrespect” (which may be demonstrated by swearing, as became clear Tuesday when a controversy over the code went public) can earn a student demerits that could lead to suspension. Hinds appears to be relatively rare among public colleges in regulating speech in this way. And the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has taken up the case of a student who […]

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  • An F (bomb) in oral communications

    May 18, 2010

    Isaac Rosenbloom was among a small group of students who stuck around after speech class one day this spring at Hinds Community College to discuss their grades with the instructor. After seeing that he had received a 74 on a late assignment, Mr. Rosenbloom testified in a recorded disciplinary hearing, he turned to one of his peers and said, “this grade is going to [expletive] up my entire GPA.” He says the instructor, Barbara Pyle, heard him and “went into a screaming fit,” telling him that she does not tolerate offensive language and threatening to send him to detention. “I told her, ‘This […]

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  • HCC student says he was punished for swearing

    May 18, 2010

    A Hinds Community College student said that he was barred from a course and given demerits for using a four-letter word. The incident happened March 29 after an oral communication class, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit educational foundation to which Isacc Rosenbloom turned for help. Instructor Barbara Pyle and a few students stayed after class to discuss the students’ grades, said FIRE. At one point, Rosenbloom, 29, said that his grade was “going to (expletive) up my entire GPA,” the group said. Pyle yelled at him and told him that his language was unacceptable, […]

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  • Latest FIRE Video Draws 27,000 Viewers, Coverage From ‘Boing Boing’

    April 15, 2013

    In case you missed it, last week FIRE released a new video documenting the case of Isaac Rosenbloom, a student at Hinds Community College in Mississippi who was effectively expelled in 2010 for complaining to a fellow student after his Oral Communications class that a grade was “going to fuck up [his] entire GPA.” In the five days since our video was released, it has drawn 27,000 viewers and coverage on the popular group blog Boing Boing. If you haven’t watched the video yet, head over to Boing Boing, where you can watch the video and join in the active […]

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  • Student’s Career Threatened After School Punishes Him for Profanity Outside of Class (VIDEO)

    April 11, 2013

    In 2010, Isaac Rosenbloom complained to a fellow student after his Oral Communications class that a grade he received on an assignment was “going to fuck up [his] entire GPA.” Rosenbloom’s professor at Hinds Community College in Mississippi overheard the comment, threatened him with “detention” (which Hinds, like most colleges, did not have), and submitted a disciplinary complaint to the school. Rosenbloom—a husband and father of two children—was found guilty of “flagrant disrespect” and involuntarily withdrawn from the class, causing him to lose his financial aid eligibility and threatening his paramedic training. With FIRE’s help, Rosenbloom was able to obtain […]

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  • No Public Reading of ‘Huck Finn’ Allowed on Mississippi Campus

    January 18, 2011

    Hinds Community College (HCC) barred a paramedic student from one of his classes last year and denied him financial aid after a professor initiated a verbal confrontation with him over his language outside of class time. After FIRE intervened, HCC backed down. FIRE obtained the assistance of attorneys Robert B. McDuff and Sibyl Byrd, who took up Isaac Rosenbloom’s case and secured a settlement in his favor. HCC removed the finding and demerits from Rosenbloom’s record and restored his financial aid. But that’s not the end of the story. HCC maintains an anti-vulgarity policy that apparently dates back to 1998. Rosenbloom […]

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  • More Public Scrutiny of Mississippi Speech Codes in the Wake of Hinds Case

    August 25, 2010

    Nearly a month after FIRE’s victory at Hinds Community College, the case is still reverberating in news coverage across the country. Locally, The Bolivar Commercial of Cleveland, Mississippi, published a biting editorial condemning Hinds and other Mississippi colleges for violating students’ First Amendment rights. The editorial was also reprinted in the Hattiesburg American (Hattiesburg, Mississippi). It opens: Schools need to learn that all America is a free-speech zone. Let’s see if we got this straight. Mississippi’s universities and colleges teach the principles of American government, don’t they? Well then, why don’t they realize that freedom of speech is a basic […]

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  • On Football and Other F-words in Mississippi

    August 12, 2010

    It’s too bad Isaac Rosenbloom isn’t a football player, as Gary Pettus of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, MS, would tell it. Pettus’ recent column amusingly compares the odysseys of Rosenbloom—recently cleared of disciplinary charges for swearing outside of class at Hinds Community College in Mississippi—and Jeremiah Masoli, the former University of Oregon quarterback who will be plying his trade at the University of Mississippi after multiple run-ins with the law led to his dismissal from the UO squad. Torch readers know Rosenbloom’s tale by now: the student was removed from a course and found guilty of “flagrant disrespect” after he […]

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  • The Public Debates the Hinds Swearing Case

    August 3, 2010

    Isaac Rosenbloom was interviewed yesterday afternoon for the evening news on WAPT 16, the ABC affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi. Rosenbloom was barred from one of his classes at Hinds Community College (HCC) and denied financial aid after a professor confronted him for using the “F” word after class. After FIRE intervened, this decision was reversed, and Rosenbloom is again able to pursue his studies, but Hinds has not yet abandoned its unconstitutional policy against swearing anywhere on campus at any time. The case has drawn a great deal of debate, however. An August 1 article in the Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.) summarized Rosenbloom’s case and quoted […]

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  • FIRE’s Adam Kissel on The Gallo Radio Show Friday Morning

    July 29, 2010

    Tomorrow morning, Adam will appear on The Gallo Radio Show to discuss FIRE’s victory this week at Hinds Community College. Adam will be on at 6:30 AM Central Standard Time, and those listeners outside of SuperTalk Mississippi‘s broadcast range can stream the show live over the web.

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  • ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’ on FIRE’s Victory at HCC

    July 29, 2010

    The Chronicle of Higher Education writes today about FIRE’s successful free speech battle at Hinds Community College (HCC) in Mississippi, where Isaac Rosenbloom has finally had his record cleared after being found guilty of “flagrant disrespect” after uttering a single profane remark outside of class time. The Chronicle‘s Don Troop sums up the case: Mr. Rosenbloom and a few other students had remained after a speech class one day to discuss their grades with the instructor, Barbara Pyle. … Mr. Rosenbloom testified in a recorded disciplinary hearing that he turned to a classmate and said, “This grade is going to […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech on Campus: Mississippi College Reverses Punishment of Student for Swearing Outside of Class

    July 28, 2010

    Four months after he was threatened with “detention” and then forced to endure a disciplinary process that put his and his family’s livelihoods at risk, Isaac Rosenbloom is again able to pursue advanced training as a paramedic at Mississippi’s Hinds Community College (HCC). HCC has finally reversed his punishment for swearing a single time outside of class. Rosenbloom, who supports his wife and two young children as an emergency medical technician, was barred from one of his classes and denied financial aid before FIRE was able to get his case resolved. Rosenbloom’s ordeal began on March 29, 2010, when professor Barbara […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech on Campus: Mississippi College Reverses Punishment of Student for Swearing Outside of Class

    July 28, 2010

    JACKSON, Miss., July 28, 2010—Isaac Rosenbloom is again able to pursue advanced training as a paramedic at Hinds Community College (HCC) now that the school has reversed its punishment against him for swearing a single time outside of class. Rosenbloom, who supports his wife and two young children as an emergency medical technician, was barred from one of his classes and denied financial aid after a professor initiated a verbal confrontation with him over his language. After HCC found Rosenbloom guilty of “flagrant disrespect,” he turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “HCC almost ruined […]

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  • ‘USA Today’ Blogger Criticizes Punishment of Mississippi Student in FIRE Case

    June 3, 2010

    FIRE’s case at Hinds Community College (HCC) in Mississippi, where student Isaac Rosenbloom’s First Amendment rights have been violated, receives a nice analysis this week on USA Today‘s “College: The Blog” site. As Torch readers already know, Rosenbloom was disciplined and almost suspended for one curse word he stated in a private conversation outside of class. Further, Rosenbloom was threatened with “detention” by his professor (which doesn’t exist at HCC—and he told her so), then found guilty of “flagrant disrespect” because of what the professor called “severe cursing.” Most recently, his final appeal was denied by HCC President Clyde Muse. USA Today intern and University of Georgia […]

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  • Hinds Community College President Upholds 12-Demerit Punishment for Swearing

    May 26, 2010

    Apparently, national ridicule on Fox & Friends (video) and MSNBC hasn’t yet stopped Hinds Community College (HCC) in Mississippi from sticking to its unconstitutional policy of punishing students with “demerits” for swearing on campus—even in private conversations outside of class time. That’s right, HCC threatened student Isaac Rosenbloom with suspension and banned him from one of his classes after his instructor overheard him say privately to another student after class that his grade on an assignment was “going to fuck up my entire GPA.” Some may wish that public colleges, or even the police, had the power to enforce “civility,” […]

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  • Adam Kissel Appearing on MSNBC Live and Salem Radio Network Today

    May 20, 2010

    FIRE’s Adam Kissel will be discussing the case at Hinds Community College, where a student was barred from a course for swearing outside of class, on MSNBC Live today at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. Later in the afternoon, he will be joining radio host Janet Mefferd on her daily program on the Salem Radio Network at 4:30 p.m. Be sure to tune in to both events, as Adam’s discussion is sure to provide insight as to why FIRE defends all constitutionally protected speech, including swear words.

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  • Local and National Media Descend on Mississippi College

    May 19, 2010

    Within hours of issuing our press release yesterday, the local and national media were on the scene at Hinds Community College (HCC) in Mississippi to discuss the case of student Isaac Rosenbloom’s punishment for a single use of the word “fuck” outside of class. Locally, Rosenbloom has given televised interviews to Fox40 News and ABC affiliate WAPT, which also covers the story here. FIRE’s Adam Kissel also discussed the case on The Gallo Show on the SuperTalk Mississippi radio network. Nationally, Rosenbloom’s case is the subject of entries at The Huffington Post as well as at The Washington Post and, in the […]

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  • Why Does FIRE Care About Swear Words, Anyway?

    May 19, 2010

    It’s a testament to the power of language that the debate over the use of vulgar words has continued for as long as I can remember—and certainly even longer than that. From a legal perspective, of course, the debate is just about over. The Supreme Court case of Cohen v. California (1971) decided that Americans have the right to wear a jacket with the words “Fuck the Draft” plastered on it inside a courthouse, meaning that the government cannot punish a person for doing that. As there are few places where such attire is conventionally less appropriate than a courthouse (and good […]

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  • Mississippi College Bars Student from Course for Swearing Outside of Class

    May 18, 2010

    Mississippi’s largest community college unconstitutionally bans “cursing and vulgarity” and has barred a student from a course for swearing outside of class. Hinds Community College (HCC) student Isaac Rosenbloom was forbidden to return to class and given twelve “demerits” for being so “disrespectful” as to swear in the presence of fellow students and his instructor. Today’s press release tells the story: On March 29, 2010, after their Oral Communication class, instructor Barbara Pyle and a few students stayed to discuss the students’ grades. At one point, Rosenbloom said that his grade was “going to fuck up my entire GPA.” According […]

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  • Mississippi College Bars Student from Course for Swearing Outside of Class

    May 18, 2010

    JACKSON, Miss., May 18, 2010—Mississippi’s largest community college unconstitutionally bans “cursing and vulgarity” and has barred a student from a course for swearing outside of class. After Hinds Community College (HCC) student Isaac Rosenbloom was forbidden to return to class and given twelve “demerits,” he turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “It is quite absurd that a college has decided that a 29-year-old man who uses a four-letter word out of frustration after a class should be officially punished,” said FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley. “College students don’t lose their free speech rights when […]

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