College Accused of Censorship Fights Back… by Censoring FB Page

April 6, 2014

By Robby Soave at The Daily Caller

A Connecticut community college accused of abridging a student’s free speech and due process rights addressed criticisms of its actions by shutting down its Facebook page.

Administrators at Asnuntuck Community College also insisted that the details of its treatment of student and veteran Nicholas Saucier have been misreported by First Amendment activists.

Saucier was suspended by the college after he approached and questioned Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, about his stance on gun control during the governor’s visit to campus. Saucier runs an ammunition manufacturing company, and Malloy’s policies threatened his business.

The student’s line of questioning violated the ACC student code of conduct because it wasn’t cordial enough. Administrators also said the student’s decision to film the encounter was offensive, and the act of removing his recording device from his pocket was threatening. (RELATED: College suspends student for asking questions about gun control)

After a trial in which Saucier’s acquitting evidence — the video itself — was kept out of light, administrators told Saucier that any further disturbance could result in his expulsion.

After the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education drew attention to Saucier’s plight, sympathetic people began posting questions on ACC’s Facebook page. ACC first chose simply to delete critical posts. Eventually, it took down its Facebook page entirely. FIRE captured screenshots of the page, however.

Katie Kelley, ACC dean of students, disputed FIRE’s account of the Saucier case.

“Asnuntuck CC embraces and upholds the value of free speech and inquiry that is an essential element of a vibrant community of learners,” she told The Daily Caller. “While the college is not at liberty to disclose the conduct record of any student, we can say that the FIRE story contains inaccuracies. No student was suspended for talking with the governor or with any other public official about an issue of public interest.”

According to FIRE, however, the college has not sought any kind of correction.

“FIRE has not received any requests from ACC for corrections or any other correspondence at this time (although maybe such a request is on the way),” wrote FIRE’s Susan Kruth. “We have not asserted that Saucier was suspended for the subject matter of his questioning — only that his speech was protected by the First Amendment and was neither harassing nor threatening, despite what ACC has alleged. We encourage readers to explore the case documents for themselves and decide whom they wish to believe.”

Schools: Asnuntuck Community College Cases: Asnuntuck Community College: Student Recording Conversation with Governor Suspended, Deprived of Fair Hearing