"Syracuse University tried to derail my legal career simply because of a blog that satirized life in law school."
In 2010, Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) student Len Audaer was summoned to a meeting with Associate Professor of Law Gregory Germain, where he was told he was being investigated for "extremely serious" charges, which included allegations of "harassment."
The charges being investigated stemmed from Audaer’s alleged involvement with SUCOLitis, an anonymous, satirical blog about life in law school meant to emulate The Onion.
"[The posts] were extremely frivolous in nature and there was nothing malicious about [them]," says Audaer in FIRE’s latest video. "They were designed to just lampoon everyday life. We had one about our class president being elected out and being replaced by a beer bong. It was very popular with a lot of students at the time. People liked that it was a little break in the monotony of what’s a pretty dull experience at times at law school."
Despite the light-hearted nature of the posts, a disclaimer posted on the website indicating that "no actual news stories appear on the site," and a lack of clear evidence of Audaer’s involvement with the site, the university pursued its investigation for 120 days, during which time SUCOL proposed a gag order to prevent Audaer or his attorney from talking publicly about the case, as well as to prevent any media outlets from reporting on it.
It was only after Audaer got in contact with FIRE that the university began to back down."
Because of FIRE," says Audaer, "Syracuse University College of Law stopped prosecuting me for exercising my right to free speech."
Following Audaer’s ordeal at SUCOL, he transferred to Northwestern University Law School. After graduating in December 2012, Audaer joined FIRE’s Legal Network, offering his legal services to students who, like himself, are victims of censorship on campus.
This video is the second installment in FIRE’s two-part video series about free speech violations at Syracuse University, a school that has been on FIRE’s list of serial violators of student and faculty free speech rights for some time now. In 2011 and 2012, the school was featured prominently on our annual Huffington Post "Worst Colleges for Free Speech” list.
For a complete transcript, please visit: http://www.thefire.org/transcript-syracuse-cant-take-a-joke-student-busted-for-satirical-blog-2
For more details on this case, please visit: http://www.thefire.org/cases/syracuse-university-disciplinary-investigations-of-satirical-law-school-blog