Suffolk County Community College: Abuse of Harassment and Intimidation Charges to Silence Student Journalist

Category: Free Speech

Ursula Monaco, a fifty-five year old grandmother and student at Suffolk County Community College found herself censored when she accidently replied to an e-mail that she intended to forward to a friend, using the word “c*nt” to refer to the e-mail’s sender, a SCCC Professor. She was charged with “[v]erbally abusing, threatening, intimidating, harassing, coercing or engaging in any other conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person,” and “[m]isusing or using without authority or in violation of law, the College’s information technology or telecommunications systems.” Found guilty of both charges, Monaco was prevented from joining any student organization for the period of her probation. In addition, she was not allowed to submit any material for publication in the student newspapers, a move clearly intended to suppress Monaco’s political speech. Monaco also found herself reprimanded for speaking to a non-student publication. Letters from FIRE were sent to three SCCC Presidents: La Lima, Pippins, and Ramos. Ultimately, Monaco’s record was expunged when Interim President Pippins found that no real harassment had occurred.