Bergen Community College

Location: Paramus, New Jersey
Website: http://www.bergen.edu/
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 3rd Circuit

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  • Unfree Speech on Campus

    December 12, 2014

    at The Wall Street Journal Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky famously postulated that the test of a free society is the ability to express opinions in the town square without fear of reprisal. Most American colleges wouldn’t pass that test, according to a new report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (Fire). The foundation reports that 55% of the 437 colleges it surveyed this year maintain “severely restrictive” policies that “clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech.” They include 61 private schools and 180 public colleges. Incredibly, this represents progress from Fire’s survey seven years ago when 75% of colleges maintained restrictive […]

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  • ‘Game of Thrones’ Punishment Stopped But Not Done

    October 31, 2014

    By Bob Holt at New Jersey Newsroom A Bergen Community College professor who was suspended for 8 days earlier this year over posting of an online photo has seen his record cleared. Bergen Community College suspended 47-year old professor Francis Schmidt for posting a photo of his 7-year old daughter Sophia wearing a “Game of Thrones’ tee-shirt. The shirt read: “I will take what is mine with fire and blood.” Schmidt said school officials took the word “fire” as a perceived threat of shooting at the school, according to the New York Daily News. A school official said to Schmidt, […]

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  • College Retracts Punishment Of Prof Who Dressed Daughter In Game of Thrones Apparel

    October 31, 2014

    By Samantha Reinis at Campus Reform A College in New Jersey retracted its punishment of a professor who shared a picture of his child in a Game of Thrones shirt. An art professor at Bergen Community College (BCC) in New Jersey was forced to take leave without pay until he went through a psychiatric evaluation after posting a picture of his daughter in a Game of Thrones t-shirt in April. Francis Schmidt uploaded a picture of his child on his Google+ account wearing a shirt that read, “I will take what is mine with fire & blood,” a popular quote […]

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  • College Admits It ‘May’ Have Violated Art Professor’s Civil Rights Over Game of Thrones T-shirt

    October 30, 2014

    By James Kleinmann at NJ.com PARAMUS — Bergen Community College says it “may have” violated a professor’s civil rights when it placed him on unpaid leave in January for posting a “threatening” photo of his daughter… wearing a Game of Thrones T-shirt that displayed the show’s tag line, “I will take what is mine with fire and blood.” In a letter addressed to art and animation professor Francis Schmidt on Sept. 29, BCC Human Resources Director Patti Bonomolo acknowledged the college’s error, which drew a firestorm of criticism when news of his sanction surfaced in April. “By sanctioning you as it did, BCC may have unintentionally erred […]

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  • Professor Suspended Over ‘Game of Thrones’ T-shirt Vindicated

    October 30, 2014

    By Matthew T. Hall at U-T San Diego You may remember Bergen (New Jesey) Community College professor Francis Schmidt, who was placed on unpaid leave for eight days in January for posting a photo on Google+ of his daughter in a “Game of Thrones” T-shirt that said, “I will take what is mine with fire & blood.” You may also remember that one school administrator dubbed the phrase “threatening” and another said “fire” might refer to “AK-47s.” Most everyone else (and we mean most everyone else; the story slayed the Internet) thought Schmidt had just shared a cute picture of his daughter […]

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  • ‘Game of Thrones’ T-Shirt Case Might Have Violated Prof’s Rights, Bergen Community College Says

    October 30, 2014

    By Stefanie Dazio at NorthJersey.com Bergen Community College may have violated a professor’s constitutional rights in January when it sanctioned him for posting a photo online of his daughter wearing a “Game of Thrones” T-shirt that read, “I will take what is mine with fire & blood,” the college said in a letter to him. The Sept. 29 letter to Francis Schmidt, an art and 3-D animation professor, was posted online Tuesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The foundation helped Schmidt secure a lawyer. Schmidt posted the picture of his daughter on Jan. 12 on Google+, sharing […]

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  • Professor’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Punishment Rescinded

    October 30, 2014

    By The Associated Press at The Associated Press PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey professor suspended after he posted an online photo containing a quote from “Game of Thrones” has had his punishment rescinded by the college. Francis Schmidt, who teaches art and animation at Bergen County Community College, said he was suspended for 11 days after posting a photo in January of his 7-year-old daughter wearing a T-shirt with a quote from the graphic HBO show that read: “I will take what is mine with fire and blood.” Patti Bonomolo, the school’s director of human resources, said in […]

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  • Posting Photo of Your Young Daughter Wearing Game of Thrones T-Shirt — Not A Threat Of Violence

    October 29, 2014

    By Eugene Volokh at The Washington Post From the college’s letter to Prof. Francis Schmidt: This letter acknowledges that Bergen Community College (“BCC”) may have lacked basis to sanction you for your January 12, 2014 Google+ post of your daughter wearing a Game of Thrones t-shirt (the “Incident”). By sanctioning you as it did, BCC may have unintentionally erred and potentially violated your constitutional rights, including under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Upon further reflection on this matter and in order to bring this issue to closure, BCC will strike and remove from your employment file any adverse record […]

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  • ‘Game of Thrones’ T-Shirt Professor Fights Back With Fire and Blood

    October 29, 2014

    By Danny Gallagher at CoEd.com Colleges may call themselves institutions of higher learning but they are still just as capable of doing some really dumb things. Take, for instance, the saga of Bergen Community College professor Francis Schmidt who actually received a suspension for posting a picture of his kid wearing a Game of Thrones T-shirt on his Google+ page. Well, he’s not sitting and stewing about in exile. He’s picked up a ridiculously long and sharp broadsword and swinging back at the people who put him there (minus the sword, of course, since that would at least lead to an assault charge). According […]

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  • Professor Suspended for Game of Throne T-Shirt Fights Back and Wins

    October 28, 2014

    By Greg Lukianoff at The Huffington Post Last April, I wrote about the absurd treatment of Professor Francis Schmidt by Bergen Community College (BCC) officials who seem better suited for Westeros than New Jersey. Schmidt, an art and animation professor, posted a picture of his young daughter wearing a T-shirt with the Game of Thrones quote, “I will take what is mine with fire & blood” to Google+, which automatically sent an email of the picture to his Google+ contacts, including a BCC dean. The dean found this picture of a child doing yoga so terror-inducing that she reported him to other BCC administrators. […]

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  • Professor Who Was Suspended For ‘Game Of Thrones’ Shirt Lays The Smack Down On School, Wins

    October 28, 2014

    By Cass Anderson at BroBible Back in April the story broke that an animation professor at Bergen Community College was suspended after administrators deemed him a threat. Why did they deem him a threat? Because of a photo circulating of his daughter wearing a ‘Game of Thrones’ t-shirt emblazoned with famous Targaryen words. It was a clear cut example of the furuther pussification of America. Alas, we’ve come to some resolution on this case and the professor has the last laugh, and it’s nice to know that sometimes logic prevails. via the Huffington Post‘s Greg Lukianoff: Schmidt, an art and animation […]

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  • You Will Not Believe The T-Shirt That Got This Professor Kicked Off Campus!

    April 17, 2014

    By Nick Gillespie at Reason Online Some of you will recognize the T-shirt verbiage to the right as coming from the hugely popular HBO series Game of Thrones. Nobody at Bergen Community College did, alas, which led to the suspension of Francis Schmidt, an art and animation professor at Bergen Community College. The picture is of his daughter, who is doing some kind of yoga stance. Here is an account of what happened next, courtesy of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE): Displaying a lack of both pop culture and First Amendment awareness, administrators at Bergen Community College in New Jersey […]

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  • ‘Game of Thrones’ Quote Deemed Too Threatening for NJ Community College

    April 17, 2014

    By Greg Lukianoff at The Huffington Post If there’s one thing I’ve learned as president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), it’s that I will always be amazed by the absurd ways colleges try to censor students and faculty. Unfortunately, another school, Bergen Community College (BCC), has amazed me again. This past January, Francis Schmidt, a BCC professor, was forced to go on leave and undergo a psychiatric evaluation–just for posting a picture on Google+. Obviously Schmidt’s picture was so threatening and dangerous that his immediate removal from campus was necessary for the safety of students, right? Wrong. […]

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  • Prof’s Love for ‘Game of Thrones,’ Earns Suspension from Idiotic Admin

    April 17, 2014

    By Robby Soave at The Daily Caller An administrator at Bergen Community College suspended a professor for posting a picture of his daughter wearing a “Game of Thrones” T-shirt on social media. The shirt depicted a GOT quote about fire-breathing dragons that the administrator interpreted as a threat. Francis Schmidt teaches graphic design at the New York community college. An avid GOT fan, he photographed his young daughter wearing a shirt featuring a quote from fan-favorite character Daenerys Targaryen. The quote reads: “I will take what is mine with Fire & Blood.” Schmidt shared the picture on Google+. But because […]

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  • Civil Anti-Libertarians

    January 14, 2008

    My mother believed firmly in civility: “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything,” she plaintively advised; but even she didn’t take this maxim literally.  My mother was smarter and more tolerant of dissent than a lot of college administrators today, who seem to regard graciousness as the highest educational value.  You’d think they were running charm schools, instead of institutes of higher learning.     As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and Volokh report, Bergen Community College officials have drafted a comprehensive, mandatory civility pledge in the form of a “code of responsibility.”  You have to […]

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  • College faculty in Bergen oppose proposed code of conduct

    January 11, 2008

    Faculty at Bergen Community College have balked at a proposed conduct code for students and teachers, calling it unconstitutional and unenforceable. Many schools include guidelines on civility in student handbooks, but Bergen Community College would be the first in New Jersey to require students to agree to a code. Violators would be subject to school judicial hearings that now handle such matters as assault, The Record of Bergen County reported in Friday newspapers. A draft of the code would have those at the two-year school promise to “build an inclusive community enriched by diversity” and “respect and assist those individuals […]

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  • Victory: College Backtracks After Punishing Professor for ‘Game of Thrones’ Picture

    October 28, 2014

    NEW YORK, Oct. 28, 2014—In a victory for free speech, New Jersey’s Bergen Community College (BCC) has rescinded its punishment of an art professor it placed on leave and forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation for posting a picture of his daughter wearing a Game of Thrones T-shirt. After learning of BCC’s outrageous actions, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) connected Professor Francis Schmidt with FIRE Legal Network member Derek Shaffer, a partner at the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, and Gabriel Soledad, an associate at the firm. In a recent letter to Schmidt, BCC Director […]

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  • Glenn Reynolds in ‘USA Today’ on Heavy-Handed Admins Suppressing Speech on Campus

    April 23, 2014

    Those new to The Torch or to FIRE’s work might be shocked to see that some colleges and universities punish even crystal-clear instances of protected expression. Take, for example, the Game of Thrones T-shirt worn by Bergen Community College (BCC) Professor Francis Schmidt’s daughter, which BCC claimed was a “threat” that warranted punishment. But as ridiculous as cases like this seem, it is critically important to remember that they are not outliers—similarly egregious First Amendment violations happen at campuses across the country. University of Tennessee law professor and Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds argues in a column for USA Today published yesterday that Schmidt’s case and similar incidents are a symptom of college administrators growing in number and in power.

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  • Facing Mounting Criticism, Bergen Community College Mans The Wall

    April 17, 2014

    Yesterday, my colleague Sarah McLaughlin reported on Bergen Community College’s asinine decision to place Professor Francis Schmidt on unpaid leave pending psychiatric evaluation for posting a picture on Google+ of his young daughter wearing a shirt containing a quote from the popular Game of Thrones series.

    This morning, facing mounting criticism and bewilderment, BCC doubled down on its claim that administrators were dutifully investigating a possible threat to campus.

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  • Bergen Administrators Fear ‘Game of Thrones’ Quote, Censor Professor

    April 16, 2014

    Brace yourselves; censorship is coming!

    Displaying a lack of both pop culture and First Amendment awareness, administrators at Bergen Community College in New Jersey placed Professor Francis Schmidt on leave this past January, requiring him to meet with a psychiatrist before returning to campus—just for posting a picture of his daughter in a T-shirt quoting the popular HBO television show Game of Thrones.

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  • Defying the Constitution: The Rise, Persistence, And Prevalence Of Campus Speech Codes

    November 18, 2009

    The Rise, Persistence, And Prevalence Of Campus Speech Codes

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  • Outside Input Unwanted: A Brief History of Petition Candidacies in University Governance

    March 24, 2009

    In cases of campus speech restrictions, the path to censorship is paved with seemingly benign intent: see, for instance, bans on “rude, disrespectful behavior,” as in the case of Johns Hopkins University (covered extensively yesterday by Samantha). Yet the inherent conflict between free speech and open inquiry on one hand and enforcing “civility” on the other is unmistakably clear—those with the power to define “civility” also define an orthodoxy of conduct. Hopkins is not the only university with a wrongheaded (and at public universities, legally questionable) civility provision. To pick just two examples, Bergen Community College and the University at […]

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  • Illusions over Solutions on College Campuses

    January 15, 2008

    One of the defining characteristics of modern American society seems to be the affinity those in positions of power seem to have for “addressing” various problems by instituting measures that only on the most superficial level appear appropriate for a given situation. The most apparent manifestation of this problem is, of course, in airport security. I recently witnessed a situation in which TSA personnel attempted to fit a giant plastic stroller through an x-ray machine. It was clear that there was no way it would fit, as its owners pointed out. Nevertheless, the security personnel attempted to jam the stroller […]

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  • More Commentary on Thought Reform at Bergen Community College

    January 15, 2008

    The media continues to show interest in the unconstitutional, mandatory loyalty oath that was proposed at Bergen Community College. Today, Wendy Kaminer came out with a hard-hitting piece in The Phoenix criticizing the proposal. Hopefully, continued pressure from the media will help ensure that this oath never becomes a reality.

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  • Idiocy at Bergen Community College

    January 14, 2008

    The proposed loyalty oath at Bergen Community College (BCC) continues to make news, with Inside Higher Ed running an article today. For those who are reading about this for the first time, the proposed oath is as follows: In the full knowledge of the commitment that I am freely willing to undertake as a student, I promise to respect each and every member of the college community without regard to race, creed, political ideology, lifestyle orientation, gender, or social status sparing no effort to preserve the dignity of those I will come in contact with as a member of the […]

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  • Civility Code Reconsidered at Bergen Community College

    January 11, 2008

    Today at Newsday.com, Samantha is quoted in an article about faculty opposition to a proposed “code of ethics pledge” at Bergen Community College (BCC). The lead in another article today in The Record, which also quotes Samantha, just about says it all: Bergen Community College wants to require students and staff to pledge to “embrace and celebrate differing perspectives” and help the “less fortunate,” but some faculty members and free speech advocates say the oath is unconstitutional and smacks of political correctness run amok. Here is the relevant part of the pledge that was going to be mandatory for all […]

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  • BCC faculty pledges to ethics code

    January 11, 2008

    Bergen Community College wants to require students and staff to pledge to “embrace and celebrate differing perspectives” and help the “less fortunate,” but some faculty members and free speech advocates say the oath is unconstitutional and smacks of political correctness run amok. A proposed “responsibility code” was drafted as a response to what school administrators say is a rise in “uncivil” behavior—including the use of language that is demeaning to women and minorities—on the Paramus campus. But critics say the pledge is far too broad. Faculty leaders shown a draft of the code this week vowed Thursday to fight its […]

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