Student gets in trouble for e-mail on scooter parking

September 26, 2010

Put this in the "what-were-they-thinking" category.

"They" are officials at the University of Georgia, who took exception to a mocking e-mail sent by a student complaining about the location of available parking for scooters on campus.

As reported by FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the school actually invites students to send positive and negative feedback to Parking Services, so student Jacob Lovell sent an e-mail Aug. 17 that said the following (note that I took out some language not allowed on the Post Web site):

"Why isn’t there any scooter parking near Aderhold, according to your parking map? There’s like a billion places to park on north campus and over by the Georgia center, but nothing anywhere close to Aderhold. What the hell? Did you guys just throw darts at a map to decide where to put scooter corrals? Can I expect you guys to … put in a corral near there some point before I … graduate and/or the sun runs out of hydrogen?"

Thanks for nothing, ever, J

This was deemed threatening to school officials.

On Aug. 18, Lovell received a message from Parking Services saying that his e-mail had been sent to the student judiciary. Then he received a letter Sept. 3 from Associate Dean of Students Kimberly Ellis that said in part:

"It is alleged that Mr. Lovell engaged in disorderly conduct and disrupted parking services when he sent an e-mail to them that was threatening."

Lovell was ordered to meet with officials or have his record "flagged."

"A flagged record keeps you from adding, dropping or registering for classes," the letter said.

Maybe I missed something; the e-mail didn’t sound threatening to me. Obnoxious, but hardly threatening.

Lovell asked FIRE, a nonprofit educational foundation that works to preserve free speech on campuses, for help. After the organization got involved, the school had a change of heart. Ellis sent a letter dated Sept. 14 to Lovell saying that there was not sufficient evidence to push forward with charges.

The case was closed. But why was it ever opened?

Schools: University of Georgia Cases: University of Georgia: Student Faces Charges for Complaint about Parking Services