Campus Reform had a disturbing (if, unfortunately, not-so-surprising) story this week about a doctoral student from Stockton University who is apparently being disciplined by the school for the grievous sin of…using a photo of President Donald Trump as his Zoom background in one of his online classes. Robert Dailyda’s story drew the attention of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which wrote a letter to Stockton’s administration demanding answers for this seeming violation of the First Amendment.
According to the letter, Stockton’s use of the background had no distracting effect on the class itself. It was only later, when other members of the class complained to Dailyda in a private group chat, that things began to deteriorate.
“I am done with the leftist agenda of BLM and the white self haters,” Dailyda wrote in a subsequent Facebook post. “I have seen it in action in my doctoral classes at Stockton and the general media. I’m not backing down. If we can’t get past this, ok, I’m ready to fight to the death for our country and against those that want to take it down.”
This post was apparently enough to get university police (!) involved. They contacted Dailyda about reports they’d received about him making threatening statements.
“Dailyda met with two members of Stockton’s Care and Community Standards Office on July 10,” reports Campus Reform. “The letter alleged that they informed Dailyda that students were offended by his Zoom background and Facebook post, and that the two university employees asked him to explain his political views. The letter then said that on July 16, Stockton charged Dailyda with violating the Disruptive Behavior, Discrimination, Harassment, Hostile Environment, and Harm provisions of its campus code.”
They asked him to explain his political views? What business is it of the university what Dailyda’s political views are? He appears to be a supporter of the duly-elected President of the United States. Is that not mainstream enough for Stockton administrators?
“While a university has a critical interest in ensuring that classroom discussions are not substantially and materially interrupted, that interest does not justify punishing a student for non-disruptive expression, even when it occurs in the classroom context,” FIRE wrote in their letter to the school.
Purely outrageous. It’s just astounding how little tolerance these leftists have for any ideology that doesn’t comport – 100% – to their social justice agenda. And they are willing to violate any norm – up to and including the U.S. Constitution – to shut down opposing opinions. That our tax dollars are going to fund these institutions is a travesty.