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American University Ends Investigation of Student for Discussing Abortion in Private Chat

American University Ends Investigation of Student for Discussing Abortion in Private Chat

“If American doesn’t commit to changing the way it handles these investigations, other students will still have to fear being investigated for pure speech.”

It’s amazing that this investigation even happened in the first place.

From the FIRE blog:

VICTORY: 43 days later, American University finally ends investigation into pro-choice law student

On Thursday — after more than six weeks of investigation — American University administrators finally cleared a student of a bogus harassment charge for sharing his pro-choice opinions in a private group chat.

Daniel Brezina is one of eight law students who’d been under investigation since May 25 for commenting in a back-and-forth about abortion. Another student said their pro-choice commentary in the student-created group chat harassed and discriminated against him based on his religious, pro-life beliefs.

“I’m glad that the school has cleared me, but this investigation should never have happened in the first place,” Brezina said. “If American doesn’t commit to changing the way it handles these investigations, other students will still have to fear being investigated for pure speech.”

Brezina worked with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression to vindicate his rights. It is unclear whether American also cleared the other seven students on Thursday.

“Law students should be encouraged to passionately debate the day’s big legal issues without the threat of a formal investigation looming over every disagreement,” said FIRE attorney Alex Morey. “American’s discriminatory harassment policy still suggests students can report their peers who offend them, and that a single offensive comment can equal discriminatory harassment. That’s a totally incorrect interpretation of the law and American needs to revise this bad policy now so this doesn’t happen again.”

The student complainant has until July 15 to appeal the decision.

American’s disciplinary investigation stemmed from a class group chat in which the accused students discussed the ramifications of Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overruling Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

On May 2, in their class section’s GroupMe chat, students criticized the leaked Supreme Court opinion and discussed options to protest and donate money to abortion advocacy groups.

The student who later filed the harassment complaint wrote that, “as a Republican, I find it insulting that conservatives would be thought of as overturning people’s civil rights…”

Another student responded, “Can we shut the fuck up about personal opinions while people process this?”

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Comments

One student said “Can we shut the fuck up about personal opinions while people process this?”
The student trying to silence liberals is wrong for bringing this complaint, BUT, the other students were discussing “donating to pro-choice groups” and “options to protest”.
Isn’t that personal opinion? I understand FIRE representing the student accused, but conservatives face the very same behavior the plantiff claims to abhor EVERY TIME there is a SCOTUS decision these snowflakes disagree with.
They don’t discuss the legal merits of the case, they weren’t doing so in this case. This was just liberals eschewing God knows how many dollars worth of law school tuition to make knee-jerk reactions. These are the people from whom judges and DA’s will be chosen in the none-too-distant future. THAT’S what scares the hell put of me.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Kevin. | July 10, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    The school should not be investigating any of this. It’s not their job to play nanny.

henrybowman | July 9, 2022 at 5:19 pm

Clearing the student isn’t victory.
The student getting a monetary award from the university would be victory.
Otherwise, the process is the punishment.

Could it get any more Orwellian?

I’m not convinced that whatever he wrote wasn’t harassment. I’d have to see the whole transcript, as well as the university policy, to decide that. What he wrote certainly sounds hostile. Here he and his pro-abortion friends are discussing their personal feelings, and the minute a pro-life student gives his opinion he is told to shut up?! That’s uncalled for, and if repeated it could easily be harassment, depending on how the university defines that term.

Still, erring in favor of more speech is a good thing; and it’s a good thing that FIRE is there to protect everyone‘s speech, no matter what side they’re on. FIRE is like the ACLU used to be.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Milhouse. | July 10, 2022 at 1:05 pm

    And that if it was harassment then law enforcement should be involved, not the university. This university administrators walking around running sham “investigators” makes the parody of mall cops seem like a biopic on elite special forces units by comparison.

    Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | July 10, 2022 at 5:16 pm

    Harassment is a matter of university rules, not criminal law. If the university has a rule that students can’t harass each other, it should enforce it the same way it does in all other cases. Law enforcement has nothing to do with it. The question is how it’s defined by the university, and how it’s enforced in other cases that aren’t politically charged.