In 2002, American University (AU) punished an undergraduate student journalist for videotaping a public speech by Tipper Gore. A kangaroo court at AU found the student guilty of “possession of stolen property.” Ben Wetmore was charged with seven violations of campus policy, including “theft” of Tipper Gore’s “intellectual property.” These charges came after a long history of the university targeting Wetmore for his protected speech. In a revealing response to a letter about the case, AU Vice President and University Counsel Mary E. Kennard criticized Wetmore for ignoring the University’s “admonitions” not “to post derogatory materials about staff on his website”—as if it were a crime to be publicly critical of the university. Kennard’s letter confirms what AU’s behavior already revealed: the appalling treatment of Ben Wetmore was due to his political speech and journalistic activities.
FIRE Case Files
Statement from Vice President of Campus Life Gail Short Hanson Regarding an Incident Involving AU Student Ben Wetmore
July 12, 2002 | Read More
Letter from American University Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Faith C. Leonard to FIRE, June 26, 2002
June 26, 2002 | Read More
June 11, 2002 | Read More