University of Connecticut: Students Arrested After Uttering Racial Slurs

Category: Cases, Free Speech
Schools: University of Connecticut

In October 2019, two students walking home from a pizza restaurant dared each other to say the word “penis” in a progressively louder fashion, then replaced the word “penis” with “nigger.” The students, who were not directing the word at any other person, were recorded by another student, and the video went viral on Twitter. The students were subsequently arrested by university police pursuant to a 1917 state law prohibiting “ridicule” in commercial advertisements which targeted particular protected classes. FIRE wrote to the university calling on administrators to respect the First Amendment and drop the charges. The university responded it could not dismiss the criminal charges. The students filed a lawsuit against the university, which they voluntarily dismissed because they graduated and the lawsuit had prevented the institution from imposing sanctions.