By Russell Westerholm at University Herald
Colorado College reduced the suspension of a student that made a social media comment “deemed hurtful and distasteful,” but denied his request for a new disciplinary hearing.
The school initially suspended Thaddeus Pryor for 21 months because he responded to a post on Yik Yak reading “#blackwomenmatter” by commenting, “”They matter, they’re just not hot,” The Colorado Springs Gazette reported.
Pryor’s appeal for a new disciplinary hearing was denied, but Colorado College administrators reduced his suspension to only last the remainder of the academic year. He will be able to come back to campus after the school’s May 14 graduation ceremony.
“The six-word comment I admitted to writing then deleting shortly after was mean, hurtful and neither reflective of my character, nor my actual beliefs,” Pryor wrote in his appeal to the school’s dean of students, Mike Edmonds, per USA Today College. “That being said, I still made the comment, and am deeply sorry for it. However, I would like to respectfully appeal for a retrial based on failure of the hearing process and bias in the decision-making process.”
Edmonds responded by reducing the term of Pryor’s suspension because of his clean disciplinary record.
“I believe this will provide you with the opportunity you asked for: to apologize, learn and mitigate the damage caused by your actions,” Edmonds wrote, according to The Gazette. “In your own words, you accepted responsibility for the comments, which you deemed hurtful and distasteful, and stated you deserve to be held accountable for your actions. Since you have admitted responsibility and accepted accountability, I see no grounds for a new hearing.”
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent Colorado College a letter on Pryor’s behalf, citing the Student Guide. FIRE Senior Program Officer Ari Cohn stated in a news release the student’s comment “was intended to be a joke” and that the punishment “completely contradicts the school’s promises of freedom of speech.”