HICKORY, N.C. – Marc Bechtol says it was satire. Leaders at Catawba Valley Community College say it was "disturbing."
Irritated that the school ignored his request to withhold his personal information from a bank the school had partnered with, Bechtol took to the college’s Facebook page on September 28th and wrote, "Anyone else’s inbox full of spam today? I wonder if they’d like it if we registered them with every porn site known to man. Anyone know of any good viruses we could send them?"
Bechtol then says he immediately followed up with "Okay, maybe that would be a bit excessive."
On October 5th, 37-year-old Bechtol got a letter from school officials, stating that his post was "disturbing and indicates possible malicious action against the college." Bechtol was told he violated what critics call a "vague" student conduct policy and was suspended and banned from CVCC campuses for two semesters.
"When you have a policy like that, it’s impossible to tell just from reading that policy just what exactly is going to get you in trouble," says Robert Shibley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE. Shibley is working to get Bechtol back in class. He says, "It’s not credible that they thought he was a threat since they didn’t pull him out of class until the week after he did it. So if he was a real threat, why would they have waited that long?
The school sent FOX Charlotte a statement, saying, "CVCC is involved in Mr. Bechtol’s due process and cannot comment at this time."
Bechtol is appealing the suspension. And word is spreading on campus. Student Holly Bass says, "We have to respect every body’s rights, even his, his is free speech, he was saying what he thought and like I said, it’s a social website."
Student Amanda Green says, "At the same time, you shouldn’t post things that incriminate yourself and if you’re gonna post something that could possibly get you in trouble, there’s (sic) consequences to that."
In a letter Bechtol wrote to CVCC leaders, he says he applied to a four year university. If he loses his appeal, he will have to notify the university that he is under disciplinary action, which he says will end his academic career. He’ll know more after a meeting with CVCC leaders on Friday.