Tennessee Technological University: Professors Punished for Satirical Flyer Criticizing Another Professor


Tennessee Technological University

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Case Overview

In February 2021, two Tennessee Tech professors, Julia Gruber and Andrew Smith, created and distributed a flyer depicting professor and Putnam County Commissioner Andrew Donadio sitting on the Iron Throne from HBO’s Game of Thrones. The flyer criticized Donadio after a dispute over the failed effort to rename a middle school mascot. Tennessee Tech disciplined Gruber and Smith for harassment, discrimination, intimidation, and threats. On August 18, FIRE wrote to Tennessee Tech to explain that the flyers were protected political expression. On October 5, after Tennessee Tech refused to back down from disciplining the professors, the professors filed a lawsuit against the university.