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

By on 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 [expletive] up my entire GPA.” He said the instructor had told him his language was unacceptable and ordered him to detention.

[...]

Hinds found Mr. Rosenbloom guilty of “flagrant disrespect” and issued 12 demerits against him. The college also blocked him from finishing the course and placed a record of the incident in his student file, an action that FIRE says caused Mr. Rosenbloom to lose his student aid.

Fortunately, HCC eventually removed the finding and demerits from Rosenbloom’s record and restored Rosenbloom’s financial aid, allowing him to continue with his advanced training to be a paramedic—but only after FIRE obtained legal assistance and HCC was faced with the unappealing prospect of an embarrassing court fight.

Importantly, Troop notes that while Rosenbloom now can continue with his studies, the larger issue of HCC’s retrograde speech code remains unresolved:

He said that while he was happy to be able to finish his course of study, he’s disappointed that Hinds is not going to do away with its speech code. “They’re just going to turn around and do this to the next guy,” Mr. Rosenbloom said.

We’ve said as much here at FIRE, of course, regarding HCC’s prohibitions on “public profanity, cursing and vulgarity,” violations of which can result in penalities ranging from a $25 fine to suspension from the college, and we will continue to press HCC to do away with it.

Schools: Hinds Community College Cases: Hinds Community College: Student Barred from Class