Montclair State President Overturns Fat Joke Suspension

Joseph Aziz can continue his graduate studies at Montclair State University.   The school’s president, Susan Cole, caved to media pressure generated by the civil rights group, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and revoked Aziz’s suspension for making fat jokes on YouTube and facebook about the girlfriend of a fellow student who heckled conservative activist Steve Lonegan during a presentation at the school last September.  The heckler who called Lonegan a racist and an American fascist while interrupting his presentation was never disciplined.

The YouTube video of the fat heckler was set to private within an hour of MMM asking the University for the identity of the heckler and if the heckler had also been disciplined.

Aziz declined to tell MMM the name of the heckler or the heckler’s girlfriend.

Cole revoked Aziz’s suspension in a letter dated Thursday after consulting with the University’s attorney.

“While Montclair State never should have issued its unconstitutional gag order in the first place, we commend President Cole for acting swiftly to end the situation once it became public,” said FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley. “Since this unwarranted suspension prevented Mr. Aziz from attending any classes, we expect that Montclair State will make accommodations to ensure that he can get into the classes he needs as soon as possible. We also expect that the university will make sure that this unjust punishment does not appear on his records.”

Shibley offered to work with Cole on revising other University policies that violate students’s rights of free expression.

“Montclair State briefly tried to justify its decision by appealing to New Jersey’s anti-bullying law, but Aziz’s comments did not constitute bullying under the law’s definition of the term. Even if they had, Aziz’s speech still would have been protected by the First Amendment, which supersedes state law,” said FIRE’s Shibley. “While Montclair State recognized its error this time, several of the university’s policies could still be used to silence student speech in the future. FIRE would be pleased to work with President Cole to revise those policies to comply with the First Amendment, by which all public universities are legally and morally bound.”

Cole should take Shibley up on his offer.  She should also make sure the University’s code of conduct is not used as a weapon against students who do not subscribe to her administration’s political agenda.

Posted: January 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Academia, Freedom | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Montclair State President Overturns Fat Joke Suspension

At Montclair State, you can call someone racist, but you can’t call someone fat

By Art Gallagher

Last September Steve Lonegan addressed a group at Montclair State University.  During his presentation, a fat guy asked Lonegan about his famous 2006 billboard controversy.  In case you forgot, Lonegan gained widespread press coverage in 06 for asking McDonalds to remove a billboard written in Spanish from a Bogota roadside.  Lonegan was mayor of Bogota at the time.

The fat Montclair State student proceeded to heckle Lonegan, calling him a racist and a shameful American fascist.  Fatboy was escorted from the meeting after he refused to shut up.  The incident was captured on video and posted to youtube where as of this writing it has only 510 views. (UPDATE: The fatboy youtube has been set to private)

Evidently fatboy has a fat girl friend. It’s not clear from the video who the girlfriend is, but Joseph Aziz, a graduate student at Montclair got himself into hot water for posting a comment on Youtube that the woman’s legs look like “a pair of bleached hams.”   Someone complained to the university administration, according to a surviving reporter at the Star Ledger,  They forbade Aziz from having any contact with the fatgirl or from posting her name anywhere on the Internet.  MoreMonmouthMusings was going to ask Lonegan if the girl was really fat, but we figured he wouldn’t know.

Aziz later joked about the incident and the fat girl in a facebook group.  He said he thought the facebook group was private.  Someone sent Aziz’s comments to the Montclair University Internet Police and Aziz was suspended from the university for a year.   Karen Pennington, Montclair’s vice president of student development, campus life and manners, cited New Jersery’s Anti-Bullying Law as justification for Aziz’s suspension and for denying his appeal of the suspension.  Aziz says the suspension puts his future career as a microbiologists at risk.

MMM has been told that the fatboy who called Lonegan a racist and a shameful American facist while disrupting the event received no disciplinary consequences from the Montclair State administration.

Neither fatboy nor Aziz should have been disciplined by the University.  Their friends and families should tell them they were being assholes. The only fascists in this sordid story are the administrators at Montclair who are abusing their power to forward a polictical agenda.

Posted: January 16th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Art Gallagher | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »