NOTE: The article excerpted on this page is from an outside publication and is posted on FIRE's website because it references FIRE's work. The viewpoints expressed in this article do not necessarily represent FIRE's positions.
University of Georgia officials have called off disciplinary proceedings against a graduate student who sent an irate and profane e-mail to parking services, complaining about the lack of scooter parking on campus.
"Why isn’t there any scooter parking near Aderhold, according to your parking map," graduate student Jacob Lovell wrote Aug. 18 in an e-mail to UGA’s Parking Services Department.
"There’s like a billion places to park on north campus and over by the Georgia Center, but nothing anywhere close to Aderhold. What the hell? Did you guys just throw darts at a map to decide where to put scooter corrals? Can I expect you guys to get off your a—- and put in a corral near there some point before I f—— graduate and/or the sun runs out of hydrogen?
"Thanks for nothing, ever, J."
Four hours later, Lovell got a response from parking services: "Your e-mail was sent to student judiciary."
"So that’s a no?" Lovell responded.
On Sept. 3, Lovell realized he could be in real trouble when he got a letter from Kimberly Ellis, associate dean of students, who notified him that he was being investigated for disorderly conduct and disrupting academic pursuits by sending a "threatening" e-mail.
Ellis wrote again Sept. 14, however.
"I did not find sufficient evidence to move forward," she wrote.
Lovell thinks UGA officials backed off after he contacted a national free speech organization called the Foundation for Equal Rights in Education, or FIRE.
FIRE Vice President Adam Kissel wrote a letter to UGA President Michael Adams on Sept. 10 saying the university was trampling on Lovell’s free speech rights and could face a lawsuit.
"I would have had the book thrown at me (without FIRE)," Lovell said.
Adams said this week that he did not recall the details of the FIRE letter, and referred questions to Rodney Bennett, UGA vice president for student affairs. Bennett did not return a phone call Friday.
Lovell said his brush with UGA authorities taught him a lesson.
"I’ve learned that parking services can be even more vindictive and petty than I’d ever imagined," he said. "When you get a rude e-mail in a customer service department, you don’t generally run to the authorities. You take care of it and maybe turn it into a positive situation. That’s what good customer service departments do."