(AgapePress) – The University of New Hampshire student who was kicked out of his residence hall for joking about female freshmen gaining weight has been allowed back in campus housing. The school’s change of heart comes after an education rights group accused the university of violating the student’s First Amendment rights.
Sophomore Tim Garneau was evicted from UNH campus housing for posting flyers in his dorm that suggested women could lose the “Freshmen 15” by walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator for one or two floors. The school has now dropped all charges against Garneau.
Greg Lukianoff is director of legal and public advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which assisted Garneau in his appeal to the school’s actions against him. Lukianoff believes UNH — whose administrators he had earlier described as “callous bullies” for their actions — was afraid to defend in public what it does in private.
“They dropped the ridiculous harassment charge. They dropped the ridiculous disorderly charge. They dropped the claim that this flyer somehow violated the [school’s] affirmative action policy,” the FIRE spokesman explains. “So in that sense, it’s a victory for free speech because these tools [and] redefinitions of existing laws get used all the time against students — and in this case they were overturned.”
Even though UNH is requiring Garneau to attend ethics counseling, Lukianoff says the case is still an important free-speech victory. “It’s another case that clarifies to the public how brutal universities can be to students who violate their imposed sense of propriety,” he says. “And it’s also a lesson in what is and is not harassment.”
Lukianoff says after violating Garneau’s First Amendment rights and kicking him off campus, the university is in no position to lecture somebody about ethics. Garneau, who had been living in his car for more than a week, will be relocating to a different dormitory.