Today's press release unveils some disappointing news from Colorado College (CC). CC denied the appeal of student Chris Robinson who, with another student who wishes to remain anonymous, was found guilty of having violated the school's "violence" policy for posting a flyer mocking a flyer distributed by the Feminist and Gender Studies program.
Robinson is one of the creators of "The Monthly Bag," a parody of the Feminist and Gender Studies Interns' flyer "The Monthly Rag." While the "Rag" hit on issues like the fear of male castration, feminist porn, and the like, the "Bag" threw back references to chainsaw etiquette, the range of a sniper rifle, and a quotation on "female violence and abuse [of men]" from www.batteredmen.com in a format and style that was an obvious parody of the "Rag."
Some at CC didn't find the "Bag" funny and charged its student-creators with "bias" and violating the college's values of respect and integrity. They were later found guilty of "violating the student code of conduct policy on violence," and findings of guilt were placed in their student files. Even though Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students Mike Edmonds acknowledged that the intent of the publication was to satirize "The Monthly Rag," he wrote to Robinson that "violence—or implied violence—of any kind cannot be tolerated on a college campus."
FIRE has been on this case since the beginning, and has written to CC, explaining the error of its ways. CC's behavior in this instance is rife with problems. It silenced an obvious parody. It employed a double standard by allowing the "Rag" to discuss violent issues but shutting down the "Bag" for doing the same. It relied on the tragic Virginia Tech shooting to silence speech on campus, as Greg wrote in a recent piece for The Huffington Post. Then, the same administrator who found Robinson guilty in the first place was the final judge of his appeal.
FIRE is calling on CC to stand by its promises of free expression and remove this guilty finding from the involved students' records. As Greg said in today's press release, "As long as they are deemed guilty for engaging in satire, the school's extensive promises of free expression are brazen misrepresentations."