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Saint Augustines College in Public Smear Campaign Against One of Its Best Students….

Posted by iusbvision on June 2, 2011

Speaking of unhinged administrators from our last post. This story from Saint Augustines College (SAC) makes me wonder if you have to fail the Wal-Mart psych test to get hired and a school administrator.

You are not going to be pleased after you read about this injustice.

Roman Caple is the kind of student that any university would be thrilled to call one of it’s own. He was in the school band, he was in the school choir, he was involved in student government, and he was so supportive of his school’s athletic program that he had the mascot, a falcon, shaved into the side of his head. He even played on the school tennis team for three years.

The Daily Caller has much of the story and be sure to keep reading after because it gets worse.

The Daily Caller:

Facebook and college go hand and hand these days — students read up on each other, share funny videos, send messages, and publicize those embarrassing photos from the night before. At Saint Augustine’s College (SAC), however, posting the wrong thing on Facebook will land you in hot water.

The Raleigh, N.C., college prohibited senior Roman Caple from participating in his class’ graduation because of a “negative social media exchange” he had on Facebook regarding the school’s response to the April 16th tornado damage.

What Caple is being punished for is encouraging his peers on SAC’s Facebook page to go to the school’s public meeting to argue for what he thought was the best way to respond to the tornado damage.

“Here it go!!!!!” he wrote. “Students come correct, be prepared, and have supporting documents to back up your arguments bcuz SAC will come hard!!!! That is all.”

Come correct, be prepared, have documentation. There is your horrible message that must be punished according to SAC Vice President Eric W. Jackson

More –  and read carefully:

Several days later, Caple met with SAC Vice President for Student Development and Services Eric W. Jackson, who that same day informed Caple that he would not be allowed to walk with his class. In a letter to Caple, Jackson explained that the reason for his prohibition was the Facebook comments, adding that “[a]ll students enrolled at Saint Augustine’s College are responsible for protecting the reputation of the college and supporting its mission.”

While graduation has already happened, without Caple participating, the student is still fighting the decision. His attorney, Brandon S. Atwater, has sought help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

“While it promises free speech, Saint Augustine’s College has apparently rolled out a brand new, unwritten ‘don’t challenge our decisions on Facebook’ rule that warrants keeping a student out of graduation ceremonies,” FIRE senior vice president Robert Shibley said. “It’s hard to think of a pettier way to punish a loyal, graduating student for publicly disagreeing with administrators.”

In a statement issued in response to concern about Caple’s punishment, the school explained that the decision was due to the fact that they saw Caple’s words as an attempt to stir up trouble.

“At a time when the College staff was working diligently to ensure the well being of all students, Mr. Caple, a senior, chose to attempt to create chaos,” the school wrote in a statement. “It is important to note that Mr. Caple is a student who resides off campus and therefore, was not present on campus throughout the tornado or its aftermath.”

The college added that they had had past troubles with Caple, but were not prepared to share them at this time.

“Throughout his matriculation, there were more incidents involving Mr. Caple that factored into the College’s decision, however, because of FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] constraints, that information cannot be disclosed,” the school added. “The posts to Facebook during this time left the administration with no other choice other than to exclude him from the actual commencement exercise.”

Smear Campaign

Bring documentation and have your facts correct is chaos? Was Caple going to start a riot? Was this statement so bad that the school had to prevent him from attending graduation as a matter of public safety? So urgent that they had to abandon all due process in his “punishment”?

FERPA is not that cut and dry, in every case where a school tries to hide behind FERPA when it trashes a student (Hello IUPUI) it ends up being just what it looks like. If the administrators were really interested in protecting Roman Caple’s privacy they would not even claim the student had past problems (after all it is private right?). This is an assault on his reputation now put out nationwide. In cases such as the famed Keith John Sampson case at IUPUI where the student who was persecuted and trashed in the media by unhinged administrators, when the student waved privacy and asked for the documentation under the law, the school had nothing. For a while IUPUI claimed that it had knowledge of “secret” violations that not even the student could be made aware of. All lies.

ABC News 11 has video and more details. In the video ABC shows that his other Facebook comments were very positive and supportive.

Our friends at FIRE have more details:

FIRE wrote SAC President Dianne Boardley Suber on May 18, pointing out that SAC’s punishment of Caple violated the college’s extensive promises of freedom of expression. FIRE noted that SAC’s Student Handbook states that “[s]tudents enjoy the same basic rights and are bound by the same responsibilities to respect the rights of others, as are all citizens.” These rights include “freedom of speech.” SAC’s Student Handbook also states that SAC has an “obligation to provide an open forum to present and debate public issues,” and SAC policies further explicitly note that the college is not “a setting described in the concept of in loco parentis” (emphasis in original)that is, SAC students are to be treated as adults.

On May 24, a law firm representing SAC wrote FIRE, arguing that SAC had “legitimate reasons” to punish Caple. The firm failed to indicate any of those reasons and did not explain why SAC appeared to act entirely outside of the due process procedures that the school promises its students. [Emphasis IUSB Vision – that folks, is a smear campaign – Editor] Despite the college’s apparent breach of its contractual promises to students, the firm insisted that SAC “did not err or violate Mr. Caple’s rights.”

“If I were Saint Augustine’s College, I would have commended this student for encouraging his peers to provide documentation that supported their arguments about a contentious issue,” FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel said. “Instead, SAC did the opposite and punished Roman Caple for exercising his rights.”

In my view this looks like a deliberate attempt to sully Roman Caple’s reputation.

Reaction

This injustice has generated outrage all over the internet. At the time of this writing Google is already showing 10,200 hits on the issue.

Here is a video from Hip Hop reviewer who goes by the name “Misanthropik One”. WARNING – ADULT LANGUAGE! The language is “Hip Hop”, but the substance is solid and, in spite of the 30 second music intro that is intolerable (so just skip to the 30 second mark), the clip is strangely charismatic and entertaining.

My personal reaction is to SAC Vice President Eric W. Jackson is this video clip, which I am confident Mr. Jackson has seen many times, and yet shows no ability to grasp of whatsoever:

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