University of Virginia: Student Sanctioned for Remark Comparing Protesters to “Speedbumps”


University of Virginia

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Case Overview


In July 2020, UVA student Morgan Bettinger found the street blocked by protesters as she drove home from work. She told the driver of a city garbage truck, which blocked the street, “it’s a good thing that you are here because, otherwise, these people would have been speed bumps.” Although UVA’s equal opportunity office determined that the remark was not a threat, a student-run disciplinary committee said Bettinger’s comment was “shameful and put members of the community at risk” and sanctioned Bettinger. FIRE wrote to UVA on July 27, explaining that Bettinger’s comment was protected by the First Amendment and calling on the university to expunge the sanctions. On August 18, UVA’s president responded to FIRE, refusing to expunge Bettinger’s record and stating it would be “inappropriate” for him “to intervene in a case that has been properly adjudicated and reviewed.”