University of Tulsa: Student Suspended for Husband’s Facebook Posts

Category: Due Process, Free Speech
Schools: University of Tulsa

In October 2014, the University of Tulsa (TU) suspended student George “Trey” Barnett and banned him from from the TU campus until 2016, because of Facebook posts written by his husband, who was not a TU student, which criticized a student and two TU faculty members. TU suspended Barnett, who was due to graduate in December 2014, despite the fact that his husband had submitted an affidavit attesting to his authorship of the posts. TU also found him guilty of violating its confidentiality requirements by discussing the case with his husband. FIRE wrote to TU in October, demanding that TU honor Barnett’s due process rights and not hold him accountable for the speech of others. In January, TU summarily denied his appeal, leaving Barnett unable to earn his theater degree as planned. In February, when TU student newspaper The Collegian investigated Barnett’s suspension for and asked the administration for comment, its editors were threatened with potential conduct charges if they reported on anything “that the university deems to be confidential.”  TU refused to specify to The Collegian what it deemed confidential, resulting in uncertainty and fears of reprisal from the administration.

  • Student Suspended over Someone Else’s Facebook Post is Suing

    January 26, 2016

    By Ashe Schow at Washington Examiner A University of Tulsa student is suing the university after being suspended for Facebook posts that his fiancee published. … Read more here.

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  • Student Suspended Over Someone Else’s Facebook Post is Suing

    January 26, 2016

    By Ashe Schow at Washington Examiner A University of Tulsa student is suing the university after being suspended for Facebook posts that his fiancee published. … Read more here.

    » Read More

  • Tulsa University Bans Student From Campus For Someone Else’s Facebook Posts

    February 18, 2015

    By Tim Cushing at Techdirt Nothing generates bad press quite like overreaction, and Tulsa University (OK) is busy making itself look vindictive and stupid. How does it handle critical Facebook posts directed at its staff? Bypunishing the student who didn’t write them and following that up with an attempt to silence critics of its terrible disciplinary decision. In a triple blow to free speech, due process, and freedom of the press, the University of Tulsa (TU) arbitrarily banned a student from campus until 2016 for Facebook posts that someone else admitted to writing and then attempted to intimidate student journalists […]

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  • Suspended for Spouse’s Statements?

    February 13, 2015

    By Jake New at Inside Higher Ed The University of Tulsa has suspended a student over offensive Facebook posts that were written by his husband. George “Trey” Barnett was banned from campus last semester until 2016 over the posts, which criticize two faculty members and insult a fellow student. If he returns to campus after his suspension, according to the university’s final decision in the case, he will not be permitted to complete his theater degree, nor will the university allow his existing credit hours to transfer to another institution. He was 16 credit hours short when he was suspended. […]

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  • U of Tulsa Suspends Student For Husband’s Facebook Post, Censored School Newspaper For Reporting On It

    February 13, 2015

    Ashley Dobson at Red Alert Politics This situation at the University of Tulsa is unbelievable. The school has decided to ignore all constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of the press and due process as they prevent a student from graduating for Facebook posts written by someone else. “The University of Tulsa’s speech police are putting in some serious overtime on this case,” Peter Bonilla, Director of the Individual Rights Defense Program at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said in a statement on the organization’s blog.  “Punishing someone for the speech of a friend or relative might be par for […]

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  • Student Expelled Over Husband’s Facebook Posts, Newspaper Censored for Asking Questions

    February 12, 2015

    By Robby Soave at Reason Online The University of Tulsa has broken every free speech rule in the book in its treatment of student George “Trey” Barnett, according to theFoundation for Individual Rights in Education. Administrators suspended Barnett over statements his husband made on Facebook, banned Barnett from ever earning a degree in his field, broke TU’s own dispute resolution policies, and even threatened student newspaper reporters with sanctions for covering the case. It’s a whirlwind of unfairness propagated by a private, Christian university that purports to grant Constitutional rights to its students. The trouble began when Barnett’s husband posted […]

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  • Student Unjustly Suspended by University of Tulsa Announces Lawsuit

    January 25, 2016

    Nearly a year ago, FIRE brought attention to the University of Tulsa’s (TU’s) unjust suspension of student George “Trey” Barnett. Now, Barnett, who was only two months away from graduation when he was suspended, is suing TU for violating its policies. In 2014, Barnett’s then-fiancé—who was not a TU student—criticized two TU professors and a student in Facebook posts tagging Barnett or written directly to Barnett’s page. Susan Barrett, one of the professors mentioned in the posts, filed a complaint against Barnett, claiming he should be held responsible for his fiancé’s posts. In September 2014, TU Senior Vice Provost Winona […]

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  • FIRE Explains Student Journalists’ Rights (VIDEO)

    December 1, 2015

    In light of recent high-profile threats to a free student press on college campuses nationwide—including threats to defund student publications for publishing controversial material and banishment of student reporters from public events—FIRE wants to ensure that student journalists know their rights. So today, we’re proud to launch a new video designed to do just that. In our new video, Azhar Majeed, director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program, outlines the differences between press freedoms at public and private universities. As Azhar explains, public institutions are fully bound by the First Amendment, while private colleges that promise free speech owe students […]

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  • University of Tulsa and the Troubling Demise of Campus Disciplinary Hearings

    March 5, 2015

    Imagine, for a moment, being accused of a serious offense and then finding out that the detective in charge of investigating your case would also be prosecuting it. Not only that, that same individual would also be deciding whether you are guilty and determining your sentence. You’d probably think that was a bit unfair. Unfortunately, that’s the reality that a growing number of college students face when they are accused of misconduct on campus—and it’s a trend the federal government is encouraging. Torch readers will remember the ongoing case of George “Trey” Barnett, who was suspended from the University of […]

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  • Despite Administrative Pushback and Theft, University of Tulsa’s ‘Collegian’ Produces Exceptional Reporting

    February 18, 2015

    FIRE often celebrates examples of impressive student journalism, especially by student newspapers that face threats from their university administration or other students because of their reporting. During this year’s Free Press Week celebration, we’d like to focus on the University of Tulsa’s (TU’s) student paper, the Collegian, which has produced outstanding journalism in its coverage of TU’s unjust suspension of student Trey Barnett. Despite being threatened by TU with unnamed sanctions if the Collegian released “confidential information” (which, of course, TU administrators did not deign to identify or explain), Kyle Walker and Conor Fellin published a searing report last week […]

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  • Unable to Suspend Non-Students, University of Tulsa Settles for Hiding Facebook Posts

    February 17, 2015

    Administrators at the University of Tulsa (TU) have remained notably quiet since FIRE issued a press release last week covering the school’s vindictive treatment of student Trey Barnett, suspended for another person’s Facebook posts, and TU’s threats to the Collegian student newspaper for reporting on the story. Now it looks like TU wants everyone else to shut up about it, too. TU’s censors, apparently on a mission to eradicate any unflattering Facebook posts mentioning the university or its administration from the Internet, have begun to hide posts from TU’s own Facebook page. Although TU’s “About” page asserts the private university’s […]

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  • New Study from Reporters Without Borders: Freedom of Press Declining Worldwide

    February 16, 2015

    As we begin Free Press Week here at FIRE, a study released last week by Reporters Without Borders brings some sobering news about the state of freedom of the press worldwide. According to the nonprofit organization’s “2015 World Press Freedom Index,” two thirds of the 180 countries examined for the report fared less well than in the previous year. This includes the United States, which—despite the crucial protections of the First Amendment and the guarantees it provides for journalists and media outlets—fell three spots from last year and places 49th in the world. Reporters Without Borders uses seven categories as […]

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  • U. of Tulsa Suspends Student for Someone Else’s Facebook Post

    February 12, 2015

    TULSA, Okla., February 12, 2015—In a triple blow to free speech, due process, and freedom of the press, the University of Tulsa (TU) arbitrarily banned a student from campus until 2016 for Facebook posts that someone else admitted to writing and then attempted to intimidate student journalists who were trying to cover the story. “The University of Tulsa’s speech police are putting in some serious overtime on this case,” said Peter Bonilla, Director of the Individual Rights Defense Program at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “Punishing someone for the speech of a friend or relative might be […]

    » Read More