Saint Augustine’s College: Student Prohibited from Walking at Graduation Due to Facebook Post

Category: Due Process, Free Speech
Schools: St. Augustine’s College

Saint Augustine’s College (SAC) in Raleigh, North Carolina, refused to allow a student to participate in its graduation ceremonies due to a comment he posted on Facebook about how the college was handling its recovery from tornado damage. Despite SAC’s extensive promises of freedom of expression for students, the college disciplined student Roman Caple because of what it called a “negative social media exchange.” On July 8, 2011, Caple filed a lawsuit against SAC and its president, Dianne Boardley Suber, in North Carolina Superior Court, seeking damages for SAC’s violation of its promises of free expression. Caple is represented by attorney Brandon S. Atwater.

  • Colleges grab Facebook posts to punish student, fire prof

    July 13, 2011

    Facebook postings by a student and a professor have been used to justify punishment for the members of college communities, officials with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education have confirmed. The situations arose in separate cases, and have generated legal actions in response, the organization announced, after one student was prevented from participating in a graduation because of a Facebook statement, and a faculty member at a Michigan school was dismissed for his posting. In the professor’s case, the organization said, Jason Liptow, an adjunct professor at Mid Michigan Community College, was told he broke confidentiality rules when he […]

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  • Graduate Sues College That Barred Him From Commencement

    July 11, 2011

    Remember the North Carolina student who was barred from commencement in part because of comments he made on Facebook? Well, he’s back. And he’s still very, very mad—so mad that he’s suing his alma mater over the episode, which involved remarks he posted about the college’s recovery from tornado damage. In a complaint filed Friday in North Carolina state court, Roman Caple accuses Saint Augustine’s College of breach of contract, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Mr. Caple is seeking more than $10,000 in damages in a case that is being promoted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a […]

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  • Student prohibited from graduation for Facebook comments

    June 2, 2011

    Facebook and college go hand and hand these days — students read up on each other, share funny videos, send messages, and publicize those embarrassing photos from the night before. At Saint Augustine’s College (SAC), however, posting the wrong thing on Facebook will land you in hot water. The Raleigh, N.C., college prohibited senior Roman Caple from participating in his class’ graduation because of a “negative social media exchange” he had on Facebook regarding the school’s response to the April 16th tornado damage. What Caple is being punished for is encouraging his peers on SAC’s Facebook page to go to […]

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  • Negative Facebook Post Gets Student Barred From Commencement

    June 1, 2011

    A student has been barred from commencement in part because of comments he made on the Facebook page of Saint Augustine’s College, in North Carolina. The penalty has raised the ire of a national civil-liberties group. The apparent offending comment—a “negative social-media exchange,” as the college put it—concerned Saint Augustine’s handling of recovery from tornado damage. The student, Roman Caple, posted this remark ahead of a meeting scheduled to discuss the recovery: “Here it go!!!!! Students come correct, be prepared, and have supporting documents to back up your arguments bcuz SAC will come hard!!!!” The college’s retribution was condemned this […]

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  • St. Augustine’s College Extends Punishment, Bans Graduate From Homecoming for Facebook Post

    October 19, 2011

    Saint Augustine’s College (SAC) has informed graduate Roman Caple that he is barred from participating in this weekend’s Homecoming celebration, continuing the college’s punishment of Caple for a comment he posted on Facebook last spring about how the college was handling its recovery from the tornado that struck its Raleigh, N.C., campus. Earlier this year, SAC prohibited Caple from participating in spring 2011 graduation ceremonies, disciplining him for what it called a “negative social media exchange.” As a result of being banned from graduation, Caple filed suit against SAC and President Dianne Boardley Suber in July. Caple’s suit alleges that […]

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  • ‘WorldNetDaily’ Highlights Punishment for Facebook Comments at Two Colleges

    July 14, 2011

    Bob Unruh at WorldNetDaily has written about two cases involving Facebook and free speech: the student at Saint Augustine’s College who was barred from graduation ceremonies for a “negative” comment about his college’s tornado recovery efforts, and the faculty member in Michigan who was dismissed for posting a comment about an anonymous student. Facebook postings by a student and a professor have been used to justify punishment for the members of college communities, officials with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education have confirmed. [...] In the professor’s case, the organization said, Jason Liptow, an adjunct professor at Mid Michigan Community College, was told […]

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  • Roman Caple’s Lawsuit Against St. Augustine’s College Covered in ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’

    July 12, 2011

    Marc Parry has written about Roman Caple’s lawsuit against Saint Augustine’s College (SAC) over at The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s tech blog, Wired Campus. Last Friday, Caple filed suit against SAC after it barred him from this spring’s commencement ceremonies because of a single Facebook post. SAC has alleged that there are other reasons for punishing him but has never provided a single scrap of evidence beyond the one post about SAC’s handling of its recovery from tornado damage. The suit alleges, among other things, that SAC broke its contractual promises of free expression when it punished Caple for his online speech. Parry writes: In […]

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  • NBC-17 on Free Speech Lawsuit Against St. Augustine’s College

    July 11, 2011

    As FIRE announced on Friday, St. Augustine’s College (SAC) graduate Roman Caple has filed a lawsuit against his alma mater because SAC banned him from participating in its graduation ceremonies due to a “negative” Facebook post he wrote. Raleigh’s NBC network affiliate, NBC-17, picked up the news of Caple’s lawsuit over the weekend. Torch readers can view the short video piece below: NBC-17 notes that Caple was eventually provided with his cap and gown for graduation, but not until after the ceremony. This, unfortunately, is only one of the many insults that SAC and its leadership meted out against Roman Caple and against SAC’s promises […]

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  • Student Sues College that Banned Him from Graduation for ‘Negative’ Facebook Post

    July 8, 2011

    RALEIGH, N.C., July 8, 2011—Today, Saint Augustine’s College (SAC) graduate Roman Caple filed suit against SAC and SAC President Dianne Boardley Suber after he was forbidden from participating in spring 2011 graduation ceremonies due to a comment he posted on Facebook about how the college was handling its recovery from tornado damage. Caple’s complaint, filed in North Carolina state court, alleges that SAC violated its extensive promises of freedom of expression when it disciplined him for what it called a “negative social media exchange.” Caple, who is represented by attorney Brandon S. Atwater, also came to the Foundation for Individual […]

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  • Spotlight on Senior Barred from Graduating Ceremonies Due to Facebook Comment

    June 3, 2011

    Torch readers will recall that Saint Augustine’s College (SAC) in North Carolina refused to allow student Roman Caple to participate in its graduation ceremonies this year due to an innocuous Facebook post about how the college was handling its recovery from tornado damage. Fortunately, the story of Caple’s ordeal and FIRE’s principled defense of his individual rights has been picked up by many news venues. Marc Parry’s article in The Chronicle of Higher Education included a quote from Robert: While it promises free speech, Saint Augustine’s College has apparently rolled out a brand new, unwritten “don’t challenge our decisions on […]

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  • MSNBC to Interview Student Barred from Graduation Ceremonies Due to ‘Negative’ Facebook Post

    June 2, 2011

    UPDATE: The interview has been postponed. Roman Caple, a 2011 graduate of Saint Augustine’s College (SAC) in North Carolina, is scheduled to appear on MSNBC with his attorney sometime between 10:30-11:00 a.m. EDT on Friday. They will be discussing how SAC violated its own promises of free speech and due process when it refused to allow Caple to participate in any graduation ceremonies due to a comment he posted on Facebook about how the college was handling its recovery from tornado damage. FIRE has been advocating for Caple’s rights in this sad case.

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  • College Forbids Student to Walk at Graduation Due to ‘Negative’ Facebook Post

    May 31, 2011

    RALEIGH, N.C., May 31, 2011—Saint Augustine’s College (SAC) has refused to allow a student to participate in its graduation ceremonies due to a comment he posted on Facebook about how the college was handling its recovery from tornado damage. Despite SAC’s extensive promises of freedom of expression for students, the college disciplined student Roman Caple because of what it called a “negative social media exchange.” Caple, who is represented by attorney Brandon S. Atwater, has also come to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley said, “While it promises free speech, […]

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  • St. Augustine’s College Attempts to Justify Punishment of Graduating Senior for ‘Inappropriate’ Facebook Comments

    May 12, 2011

    On Tuesday, I wrote a blog entry here on The Torch about Roman Caple, the graduating senior at St. Augustine’s College (North Carolina) who was denied the ability to walk at his graduation because of what the college called “a negative social media exchange” in a letter to Caple. Given no specific information, Roman could not discern exactly why the college required him to pick up his degree from the campus security booth instead of allowing him to participate in his graduation ceremony. Roman told news sources that he believed the university was punishing him for a post on his […]

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  • College Student Denied Graduation Walk Following Innocuous Facebook Post

    May 10, 2011

    A student at St. Augustine’s College in North Carolina was denied the ability to participate in his graduation ceremony because of a Facebook post that, according to the Vice President of Student Affairs, “jeopardized the integrity of the college.” Roman Caple, who had posted several messages of hope on Facebook in response to the tornado that struck the Raleigh, N.C., area, believes the message that provoked the university’s ire against him was “St. Augs is holding classes tomorrow and students in Falcrest still don’t have power. Like, wtf. Really? #dumb.” Although innocuous and nondisruptive, this is likely the post that […]

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