HCC student says he was punished for swearing

May 18, 2010

A Hinds Community College student said that he was barred from a course and given demerits for using a four-letter word.

The incident happened March 29 after an oral communication class, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit educational foundation to which Isacc Rosenbloom turned for help.

Instructor Barbara Pyle and a few students stayed after class to discuss the students’ grades, said FIRE. At one point, Rosenbloom, 29, said that his grade was “going to (expletive) up my entire GPA,” the group said.

Pyle yelled at him and told him that his language was unacceptable, FIRE said. She submitted a disciplinary complaint against Rosenbloom, stating “this language was not to be tolerated (and) he could not say that under any circumstances, (including in) the presence of the other students,” according to FIRE.

Rosenbloom was given 12 demerits, which is three short of suspension, and was excluded from Pyle’s course, FIRE said. Rosenbloom’s appeal of the disciplinary action was denied, FIRE said.

“I think any public institution, from a community college to the president of the United States, should be held accountable if they act in any way that contradicts the Bill of Rights,” Rosenbloom said.

The students said he has not ruled out suing to have the ban lifted.

Rosenbloom could have been fined $2,500 by HCC for violating its profanity regulations, but he was charged with flagrant disrespect.

“It is quite absurd that a college has decided that a 29-year-old man who uses a four-letter word out of frustration after a class should be officially punished,” said FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley.

Hinds Community College officials would not confirm FIRE’s account and would not comment when contacted Tuesday by WAPT News.

“We’re not going to respond to that situation at all,” said Cathy Hayden, the HCC director of communications.

Not far from the school, reaction was mixed.

“I think its ridiculous he is an adult and he has the right to speak the way he feels if he didn’t like it. He didn’t like it,” student Megan Wright said.

“Everyone has a right to free speech. But also in the same turn everyone should not have to hear that word,” resident Tonya Brooks said.

The ACLU said Mississippi has a law against vulgarity. It carries up to a $100 fine and 30 days in Jail. The ACLU said it has fought cases similar to Rosenbloom’s before in the state, but never won.

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