Catawba Valley Community College: Student Banned from Campus after Protesting College’s Deal with Debit Card Company on Facebook

Category: Cases, Free Speech
Schools: Catawba Valley Community College

In June 2011, Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) announced a partnership with the financial services company Higher One to provide debit cards to CVCC students. In response, CVCC student Marc Bechtol and other students criticized the partnership on CVCC’s Facebook page. On September 28, Bechtol posted a critical message in which he joked, “I think we should register CVCC’s address with every porn site known to man.” One week later Bechtol was pulled out of his classroom and told not to return. On October 5, 2011, without a hearing, he was suspended for two semesters for violating the CVCC policy prohibiting any “offense which, in the opinion of the administration or faculty, may be contrary to the best interest of the CVCC community.” FIRE has asked CVCC to immediately abandon its punishment of Bechtol and drop all disciplinary proceedings. Under national pressure from FIRE, CVCC abandoned its punishment of Bechtol but failed to acknowledge that the speech was protected.