Education foundation comes to professor’s defense

January 23, 2014

by Anthony A. Mestas

Members of a Philadelphia nonprofit educational foundation devoted to free speech said Wednesday they are deeply concerned that Colorado State University-Pueblo shut down an outspoken professor’s school email account.

CSU-Pueblo professor locked out over ‘hit list’ emailCSU-Pueblo professor’s limited email restored

Peter Bonilla, a member of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, sent a five-page letter to CSU-Pueblo President Lesley Di Mare asking that Tim McGettigan’s email be completely reinstated.

“We want his email access to be fully restored without any conditions on it and without any strings attached and without it laying the basis for any other disciplinary actions from the university based on the content of the expression in his email,” Bonilla said by telephone Wednesday.

The university said McGettigan’s email has been restored, but he can’t use large distribution groups at this time.

“That’s a start, but we are still concerned that he’s being discriminated against in terms of his overall email and network access and what he is allowed to say and who he is allowed to say it to,” Bonilla said.

The university has accused McGettigan of violating a campus communication policy that prohibits messages intended to “intimidate, threaten, harass other individuals” because of an email he sent out Friday comparing job cuts at the school to the deadly Ludlow Massacre.

“CSU-Pueblo’s actions have severely violated McGettigan’s First Amendment rights and impermissibly chilled faculty and student expression,” Bonilla wrote in his letter.

He said that McGettigan’s email fails entirely to meet the exacting legal definition of “threats” or “intimidation” unprotected by the First Amendment, as CSU-Pueblo alleges.

“McGettigan’s email does not communicate any kind of ‘intent to commit an act of unlawful violence’ nor does it ‘direct a threat to a person or group of persons with the intent of placing the victim in fear of bodily harm or death,’ ” Bonilla wrote.

Bonilla said his group is not in the business of suing universities.

“Very few cases that we become involved in need that kind of action to resolve the cases at issue,” Bonilla said.

Bonilla said as of Wednesday, the university had not responded to his letter.

McGettigan informed the group of his email cancellation this week.

CSU-Pueblo spokeswoman Cora Zaletel said Wednesday that Bonilla’s letter is under review.


View this article at The Pueblo Chieftain

Schools: Colorado State University – Pueblo