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


University of Tulsa

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Case Overview


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.