Stockton University in New Jersey would have indicted a graduate student Robert Dailyda with six disciplinary charges for a political comment he made on Facebook and for using an image of President Trump as a background during a Zoom conference.
However, after our report on the incident, highlighting the fact that Stockton is a publicly-funded university and is therefore bound by the First Amendment, five of those charges have now been withdrawn.
The problem started when student Robert Dailyda showed up at a Zoom video conference using the image of Donald Trump as a background. It appears that some of his classmates found this behavior disrespectful and offensive and, for some reason, alerted the university.
However, now the university has decided that Dailyda's Facebook post where he said, “I'm ready to fight to the death for our country and against those that want to take it down,” is still a problem.
A spokesperson for Stockton University confirmed that currently there is an internal process over Robert Dailyda for breaking the institution's code of conduct but did not specify the cause.
Faced with the danger that a student would be punished for giving his opinion, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has also come out in his defense, claiming that the university cannot impose punishments of this type, saying that the charge is “incompatible with Stockton's obligations as a public institution under the First Amendment and must be rescinded immediately.”
While the university's charges are clearly an overreach and Dailyda is likely to get the charges dropped, if he was convicted he would receive probation, community service, and a $50 fine – just over that Facebook post.