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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ACLU defends students' right to criticize FAU stadium naming deal



The controversy over Florida Atlantic University's efforts to sell naming rights to its stadium continues to escalate.

On Friday, the ACLU criticized the university for allegedly retaliating against seven students who protested Monday against plans to name the stadium after a prison company. The deal fell through shortly after the rally.

The students were asked to attend "investigative conferences" on Friday, after the dean of students received a complaint that the students might have violated the school's code of conduct by their participation in the protest. The students all were involved in filing statements that university president Mary Jane Saunders hit one student with her car at the protest and did not stop to offer any assistance.

“The University shouldn’t be intimidating these students, it should be thanking them for sparing the university from embarrassment,” Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida, said in a release. “The lesson that the University seems to be sending students is, ‘think twice before filing a complaint against a high-level university official.’ We think the lesson they should be sending is ‘thank you.” Their tireless use of their First Amendment rights has protected the university from an embarrassing entanglement with a human rights violator.’”

See the ACLU's letter to the university on behalf of the students here.

[Last modified: Friday, April 5, 2013 3:02pm]


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