Western Washington University: Student Investigated Over Parking Ticket Remark

Category: Cases, Free Speech
Schools: Western Washington University

After receiving a parking ticket from WWU’s Parking Services Division in September 2011, student Jacob Ramirez sent in his payment via personal check, writing "F— the Police" on both the check and the ticket. Two weeks later, WWU notified him that he was being investigated for a possible violation of WWU’s Student Rights and Responsibilities Code, alleging that his message constituted an "unwanted and/or intimidating contact and/or communication of a threatening nature." After FIRE reminded WWU of its obligation to protect Ramirez’s free speech rights, WWU closed its investigation and apologized to Ramirez, acknowledging that it was "inappropriate" to use the university’s disciplinary code to summon a student to discuss protected speech.

There is currently no media coverage for this case.
  • WWU Admits Error in Using Student Code to Investigate Protected Speech

    November 1, 2011

    FIRE likes to give credit where it’s due when a university is forthright about errors it made in violating the rights of students. While we already commended Western Washington University last week for quickly doing the right thing and ending its investigation of student Jacob Ramirez, WWU’s official response to FIRE deserves its own additional praise. That’s because it makes an important point: Universities must not use their disciplinary codes as tools to summon students to account for their protected speech. If you’re not familiar with Ramirez’s case, here’s what happened. Jacob Ramirez found himself in trouble with WWU due to his response to being […]

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  • Victory: Western Washington University Drops Investigation of Student Over Parking Ticket Remark

    October 27, 2011

    Western Washington University (WWU) student Jacob Ramirez recently found out he was the subject of a university investigation due to a comment he wrote on a parking ticket he received. After FIRE intervened, WWU quickly backtracked, dropping the case and clearing the student’s record. Jacob Ramirez’s case began around September 30, when he was issued a ticket and $25 fine by WWU’s Parking Services department. Annoyed, Ramirez paid the ticket with a personal check and, on both the check and the returned parking ticket, wrote the phrase “Fuck the Police”—a thought that at least in general terms has most likely […]

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