University of Rhode Island: Student Threatened with Discipline for Appealing Parking Ticket

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Rhode Island

On February 23, 2021, University of Rhode Island undergraduate Timothy Hecker got a parking ticket on campus. Hecker had purchased a Fine Arts Lot pass, but parked in the incorrect one of two Fine Arts Lots. In a strongly-worded appeal of his ticket through the Transportation and Parking office, Hecker wrote in relevant part, “Get lost guys, you’ll have to pry the $35 out of my cold dead hands you predatory, money hungry bastards.” A transportation official responded that “your choice of words in this appeal are [sic] inappropriate and not acceptable, and will be refered [sic] to student conduct if continued.” On March 18, 2021, FIRE wrote to URI reminding the public university that its employees cannot threaten students for exercising their First Amendment rights. On March 23, URI informed Hecker that his parking ticket appeal was offensive but is does not violate any policies.