Saint Augustine’s College (SAC) has informed graduate Roman Caple that he is barred from participating in this weekend’s Homecoming celebration, continuing the college’s punishment of Caple for a comment he posted on Facebook last spring about how the college was handling its recovery from the tornado that struck its Raleigh, N.C., campus. Earlier this year, SAC prohibited Caple from participating in spring 2011 graduation ceremonies, disciplining him for what it called a "negative social media exchange." As a result of being banned from graduation, Caple filed suit against SAC and President Dianne Boardley Suber in July. Caple’s suit alleges that SAC violated its extensive promises of freedom of expression when it disciplined him for his Facebook post.
We’ve written about Caple’s outrageous case repeatedly here on The Torch, and I still marvel at the fact that this is a case at all. Why haven’t cooler heads prevailed at SAC? Why is the school seemingly hellbent on humiliating itself further? It’s hard to understand why SAC hasn’t simply admitted that banning a student from walking at graduation because of a mildly critical Facebook post about the college was wrong—an obvious violation of its promises of freedom of expression—and settled the lawsuit. Doing so would end SAC’s continuing embarrassment and allow Caple to get back to being a proud SAC graduate who is allowed to celebrate Homecoming with fellow alums. Seems like a win-win to me. SAC’s petty vindictiveness would be funny if it wasn’t so unfortunate for Roman Caple.
UPDATE, October 24: Caple did not attend Homecoming, fearing the school might attempt to have him arrested for trespassing.