by Marc Parry
The Chronicle of Higher Education
SUCOLitis aspires to be something like The Onion of law-school life. The Syracuse, N.Y., satirical news blog has attracted thousands of views with fake headlines about beer pong, third-year students serving burritos, and the election of the university’s “sexiest Semite.” It delights in attributing fake quotes to students and faculty, as well as to famous alumni like Vice President Joe Biden, who is quoted as calling SUCOLitis “even funnier than me.”
Syracuse University officials aren’t laughing.
The law school has threatened “harassment” charges against a student who is allegedly a writer for the anonymous blog, according to a press release put out today by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an advocacy group known for its efforts to stop campus officials from restricting the free-speech rights of students and faculty members.
The controversy began in October, when the student, Len Audaer, learned that he was under investigation. Two months later, the university still hasn’t told him what justifies the charges or who made them, the advocacy group claims. Syracuse is demanding that Mr. Audaer sign a “gag order” to receive any information about the charges, its press release says.
A spokeswoman for the law school, Jaclyn D. Grosso, won’t discuss details of the case. In an e-mail, she tells Wired Campus only that a faculty prosecutor has been appointed to investigate claims that a student violated the code of conduct, and to file a charge if appropriate.
She adds, “According to the faculty prosecutor, a motion has been filed with the hearing panel for a protective order to prevent public disclosure of the names of the students, faculty, and staff who were targeted in the blog, or who testify in the case, unless they consent to have their names disclosed. This was done to protect their privacy rights.”
The blog is no longer public, but the controversy over its contents continues to generate lots of local press. Mr. Audaer’s supporters are also trying to take the story national-among other places, on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.