Student punished for publicizing vandal names

March 5, 2013

Kristopher Del Campo’s campus group became a victim of vandalism at Chicago’s DePaul University when its pro-life display was torn apart and tossed in garbage cans.

But it’s Del Campo, chairman of the campus chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, who is being punished by the Catholic institution.

For publicizing the names of the vandals, who have admitted their guilt, university officials have charged Del Campo with “disorderly, violent, intimidating or dangerous behavior to self or others.”

“Kristopher Del Campo’s group was the victim of a politically motivated crime — and yet DePaul University is punishing Del Campo for naming the people who committed the crime,” said Robert Shibley, senior vice president of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, which is intervening in the case.

“Unfortunately, this utter disregard for student rights has become par for the course at DePaul and too many other college campuses,” he said.

Del Campo’s YAF had obtained the proper permits and permissions to erect a display of some 500 pink and blue flags Jan. 22 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Rode v. Wade decision that nullified state laws barring abortion.

According to FIRE, Del Campo complained about the display being vandalized. When he was told who committed the violence, his national organization publicized the names.

For that, the school placed Del Campo on “judicial probation” until the end of the summer.

In a letter signed by Art Munin, dean of students, Del Campo was ordered not to contact the “13 individuals named in the public safety supplemental investigation report.”

“This contact includes, but is not limited to: in person, email, text message, instant message, the internet, phone, and through other people. This No Contact Restriction applies both on an off campus,” the letter said.

He also was ordered to write an “educational project” to reflect on what he has learned from the incident.

Del Campo is appealing the sanctions.

School officials in the office of President Dennis Holtschneider and Carol Hughes, in the school’s news bureau, both refused WND requests for comment.

FIRE said the vandals tore the display flags from the ground and threw them in trash cans around campus. Del Campo reported the vandalism to the school’s public safety division, which investigated.

DePaul Assistant Dean of Students Domonic Rollins provided Del Campo with a report from the school that contained the names of 13 DePaul students who had admitted to vandalizing YAF’s display.

On Feb. 5, the national YAF organization posted the document on its website. On Feb. 8, DePaul notified Del Campo that he was suspected of violating DePaul’s Code Of Student Responsibility.

“Punishing a student for naming those who committed a crime against him or her sets a very dangerous precedent,” said FIRE’s Shibley. “For example, would DePaul punish a female student for telling her friends to avoid a person who admitted to sexually assaulting her?”

FIRE wrote to Holtschneider explaining Del Campo’s right to publicly identify those who admitted vandalizing the display. The group said labeling him as a threat for doing so makes a mockery of DePaul’s free-speech promises.

“Students who purposefully vandalize the works of other students should not expect to be shielded from the public consequences of their actions, “FIRE told Holtschneider.

Peter Bonilla, associate director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, said it’s “deeply distressing that at DePaul University a student can be labeled a potentially violent threat simply for speaking about the injustice his group suffered at the hands of his fellow students.”

“Del Campo and his group are the victims of a crime, not the perpetrators,” he said. “DePaul must quickly undo this grave injustice against student rights and basic notions of fairness and decency.”

Schools: DePaul University Cases: DePaul University: Student Punished For Exposing Vandals of Pro-Life Display