University of Chicago: Facebook Photo Album Censored for “Disrespect”

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Chicago

The University of Chicago promotes freedom of expression in its Student Manual, writing, “At the University of Chicago, freedom of expression is vital to our shared goal of the pursuit of knowledge.” However, when student Andrew Thompson posted photographs of his ex-girlfriend on Facebook.com within an album entitled “[Name of ex-girlfriend] cheated on me, and you’re next!” Thompson was asked to delete the post. The Dean of Students in the College, Susan Art, informed Thompson that his ex-girlfriend had come to her and complained, and that the album needed to be removed. After deleting the album, Thompson asked if the school was allowed to prohibit internet speech, and was told by Art that the Student Manual gives her the ability to censor “disrespectful” speech. FIRE contacted the University, and was eventually told that since FIRE was not threatening litigation, the University of Chicago did not want to engage in any further discussion regarding the issue.

  • Civil liberties group says free speech not safe at U of C

    May 12, 2009

    The University’s free speech policies were criticized last Tuesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), who claim that the U of C has not carried through with its promised commitment to open student discourse. The academia-focused civil liberties group also found fault with the University’s policies on bias reporting and organized protest. “The University of Chicago has chilled speech across the campus,” Adam Kissel (M.A.’02), director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, wrote in a press release. FIRE’s attention was drawn to the U of C after reading a Maroon article last quarter about the administration’s request that […]

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    May 14, 2009

    The Chicago Maroon student newspaper this week reported on FIRE’s criticism of the University of Chicago’s free speech policies, particularly with regard to the U of C’s censorship of a student’s Facebook.com page. Adam discussed this ridiculous case in depth on The Torch a few days ago. The gist of the case is that a male student, angry about his ex-girlfriend’s alleged infidelity, posted an album of pictures on Facebook entitled “[Name of ex-girlfriend] cheated on me, and you’re next!” This album drew comments from other Facebook users such as “Seriously though, what a f***ing whore” (language redacted), which led […]

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  • Group says U of C ‘censored’ student’s Facebook album

    May 6, 2009

    by Peter Sachs Chi Town Daily News   A national advocacy group is raising free speech issues with the University of Chicago for demanding that a student remove derogatory information about his girlfriend from a Facebook page. The Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education compained about the incident in February, says Adam Kissel, a director at the group. “The University of Chicago is claiming the power to censor off-campus, disrespectful, allegedly disrespectful speech,” Kissel says. The incident began in January, when a U of C student posted a photo album on Facebook naming his ex-girlfriend in the title and […]

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  • University of Chicago Censors Student’s Facebook Photo Album

    May 5, 2009

    A University of Chicago dean ordered a student to change the title of his Facebook.com photo album and remove pictures of his ex-girlfriend after she complained to the dean. Dean of Students Susan Art invoked the university’s policy of “dignity and respect” and claimed the authority to police allegedly disrespectful off-campus speech, even when it appears on a personal Facebook page. Indeed, the university violates its own promises of free speech by maintaining a policy subjecting disrespectful speech to disciplinary action and a “bias incident” policy that encourages members of the university to report on the so-called biases of their […]

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