Colorado State University - Pueblo: Professor's Email Access Blocked After Message Protesting Layoffs


Colorado State University - Pueblo

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

On January 17, 2014, Colorado State University-Pueblo Professor Tim McGettigan emailed all students and faculty, criticizing the administration’s plans to terminate up to 50 positions at the school. McGettigan’s email evoked the Ludlow Massacre, a 1914 attack on striking miners and their families that resulted in numerous deaths. That same day, administrators accused McGettigan of violating a policy that prohibits using email “to intimidate, threaten, or harass other individuals,” and deactivated his email account without warning. CSU-Pueblo defended its actions by citing safety concerns, referring to shootings that occurred at other schools. On January 21, FIRE wrote to President Lesley Di Mare, explaining that McGettigan’s email was protected speech and did not come close to constituting legally unprotected threats, intimidation, or harassment. After FIRE’s letter, CSU-Pueblo restored partial access to McGettigan’s email, but continued to prevent him from using university mass email lists. On January 15, 2015, McGettigan filed a lawsuit against CSU-Pueblo, stating that the university violated its policies when it denied him access to his email account. McGettigan and the university settled the lawsuit in 2017.