Colorado College: Student Suspended for Two Years for Joke on Social Media

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Colorado College

In November 2015, student Thaddeus Pryor sent an anonymous reply to the comment “#blackwomenmatter” on the social media application Yik Yak. Pryor’s response, intended as a joke, read, “They matter, they’re just not hot.” On November 20, Pryor was informed in a letter that he had violated Colorado College’s “Abusive Behavior” and “Disruption of College Activities” policies with the post. The college suspended Pryor for 21 months, until August 28, 2017, banned him from the campus in the interim, and prohibited him from receiving academic credit for courses taken at other institutions while suspended. Although Colorado College is private, and not legally bound by the First Amendment, it has repeatedly stated its commitment to freedom of expression. On November 25, 2015, FIRE sent a letter urging Colorado College to honor its commitments to free expression and reverse Pryor’s sanctions. Pryor has appealed his punishment.