Taxes Southern University violated the free speech rights of three of its students. When it was all over the university CFO was in prison, the president was personally fined $130,000 and the Governor demanded the resignation of the universality board of regents and now the university is paying damages to the students. (Hat Tip FIRE)
Three members of the Texas Southern University student government found some payroll records that were suspicious and indicated possible corruption. The students were not getting satisfactory answers about them through the administration so the students went public by printing with fliers and talking with state legislators. This caught the attention of the FBI who hired one of the students to be a confidential informant to record conversations with administrators.
It wasn’t long before the authorities made arrests. The university president and university CEO were brought up on charges. Eventually the university President payed $130,000 and the university CFO is serving a ten year prison term.
Needless to say some were not happy that three mere students would dare accuse the high and mighty administration of impropriety, so the administration trumped up bogus charges of harassing and threatening speech against the students, had the campus police arrest them and expel them from campus.
So once again, as it was at IUPUI, Temple, Penn State, Wayne State, Georgia Tech, University of California and the list is just too long now; it was an obstinate administration who marched together in perfect lock step against the law and the rules of common decency. The university insisted to the very end that those same three students deserved to be arrested and expelled and insisted it had nothing to do with with the fact that the students helped expose the corruption that had brought down the university leadership. To the administrations great surprise, not one member of the jury bought the university’s preposterous allegations and awarded the students S200,000 in damages with punitive damages to be settled at a later date.
The real question to be asked is, how is it that so many people who are liars, racists, anti-religious bigots, enemies of free speech and other ethical peccadillo’s end up as administrators on college campuses with six figure incomes? How come in most of these cases where the university’s behavior is so outrageous that anyone with a lick of common sense can determine what is obvious; highly paid and highly educated university employees march in lock step along with the injustices that are right in front of their noses?
The Houston Chronicle covered this for the local press:
Texas Southern University officials kicked out three students and had them arrested in retaliation for their public criticism of administrators, a federal jury decided Friday.
The jury of nine women and three men deliberated for 12 hours Thursday and Friday before unanimously accepting all the claims of William G. Hudson, Justin R. Jordan and Oliver J. Brown, who in 2005 sued the TSU regents, then-President Priscilla Slade and other university officials.
The former students were seeking at least $150,000 each and also sued to have their student disciplinary records purged.
Jurors awarded actual damages totaling nearly $200,000 for all three. The jury returns next week to decide on punitive damages, unless the opposing sides settle on that matter.
“At least someone stood up for us, and the jury stood up for us,” said Brown.
The lawsuit claims TSU officials targeted the students after they distributed unflattering materials about Slade and other leaders.
In early testimony of the two-week trial, Brown said he was paid $5,000 as an FBI informant to tape conversations with college officials during a corruption investigation. The students have been credited with helping to expose a spending scandal that led to a plea bargain with Slade, who agreed to repay $130,000, and the criminal conviction of former chief financial officer Quintin Wiggins, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The jury had to decide whether free speech rights of Hudson and Brown were violated when they were disciplined following their public protest. While Hudson was suspended and Brown was placed on probation, Jordan’s punishment was reversed on appeal.
Jurors also had to determine if Hudson and Jordan should be compensated for their allegations of malicious prosecution and false arrest.
Friday’s decision deemed that the individuals liable for violations against the students are Wiggins; Willie Marshall, TSU vice president and dean of students; police officer Deneen Ford; and Keefus Falls, the former director of human resources. The regents were not held liable for actual damages.
Notice in so many of thee cases, the university just digs in it heals and wastes the taxpayers money in lawsuit after lawsuit that it has no chance of winning?
FIRE’s blog called The Torch covered this case in detail so be sure to click the link for more info.