“When Tong immigrated to the United States from China at six years old, his family sought to ensure that he would be protected by the rights guaranteed by their new home”
The student is from China. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has gotten involved in this case.
From the FIRE blog:
Fordham student punished for holding gun in Instagram photo memorializing Tiananmen Square massacre
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is taking aim at Fordham University for placing a student on probation for two images he posted on social media, one of which memorialized the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
On June 3, rising senior Austin Tong posted to his Instagram account a photo of David Dorn, a retired St. Louis police captain killed by looters in the unrest following the killing of George Floyd. The photo included the caption, “Y’all a bunch of hypocrites,” a reference to Tong’s frustration, as a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, with what he refers to as “the nonchalant societal reaction over [Dorn’s] death.”
The following day, June 4, was the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-democracy activists. Tong, who emigrated from China as a child, posed for a photo holding a legally-obtained gun off-campus, with the caption “Don’t tread on me.” The caption also included an American flag emoji, a Chinese flag emoji, and a hashtag commonly used by Chinese citizens to avoid censorship of online discussion of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Fordham wrote to Tong on June 8, when Dean of Students Keith Eldredge informed Tong he was under investigation by the university for the two photos. On Tuesday, Fordham handed down its verdict: Tong was found guilty of violating university policies on “bias and/or hate crimes” and “threats/intimidation.”
“When Tong immigrated to the United States from China at six years old, his family sought to ensure that he would be protected by the rights guaranteed by their new home, including the freedom of speech and the right to bear arms,” wrote Program Officer Lindsie Rank, author of FIRE’s letter to Fordham. “Here, however, Fordham has acted more like the Chinese government than an American university, placing severe sanctions on a student solely because of off-campus political speech.”
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