Western Washington University: Student Investigated Over Parking Ticket Remark

Category: Cases, Free Speech
Schools: Western Washington University

After receiving a parking ticket from WWU’s Parking Services Division in September 2011, student Jacob Ramirez sent in his payment via personal check, writing "F— the Police" on both the check and the ticket. Two weeks later, WWU notified him that he was being investigated for a possible violation of WWU’s Student Rights and Responsibilities Code, alleging that his message constituted an "unwanted and/or intimidating contact and/or communication of a threatening nature." After FIRE reminded WWU of its obligation to protect Ramirez’s free speech rights, WWU closed its investigation and apologized to Ramirez, acknowledging that it was "inappropriate" to use the university’s disciplinary code to summon a student to discuss protected speech.