University of Chicago Repeatedly Censors Student Facebooks
The wonderful and passionate student advocacy non-profit, FIRE, has picked up an incident that happened to me at the end of last quarter.
CHICAGO, March 24, 2010—For the second time in two years, the University of Chicago has censored a student’s post on a private Facebook page. Undergraduate Joseph “Tex” Dozier posted a joke that he had had a dream about assassinating University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer “for a secret Israeli organization.” Mearsheimer is co-author of the controversial book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. This post prompted an investigator from the university’s police department to question Dozier about his political views, suggest that he would investigate Dozier’s comments on his university radio show, and demand that Dozier remove the post or else have the post reported to Mearsheimer, one of his professors. Dozier came to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help…
As you peruse the press release and letter from FIRE regarding my joke status update, you’ll quickly realize the ludicrous nature of this investigation and the inappropriate inquiries into my personal beliefs and actions. I was so busy with finals and already discouraged by the interruption from the UCPD that I didn’t follow-up about this until the next quarter. When I personally asked President Zimmer and VP Kim Goff Crews about the incident, they were caught off guard citing that UCPD would not take such aggressive action on its own and that the UCPD would never monitor social media websites. Still, to this day though, the UCPD won’t comment on the incident, won’t provide any insight on what its practices are, and won’t apologize for their treatment of me right during the middle of finals.
For me, after hearing similar stories from frat friends and others of incidents with the UCPD (e.g. parties posted to Facebook), I really just wanted clarification. So I sent a typed transcript of the exchange to the UCPD requesting that they respond. As I never received any acknowledgement or feedback, I then appealed the situation to FIRE. As I was also taking a course with Professor Mearsheimer (a professor I greatly admire; also encourage everyone to read Great Power Politics and The Israel Lobby), I wanted to respectfully wait to release this until after the winter quarter ended.
Regardless, hopefully by bringing this situation to light, the university that I love dearly will provide some answers, will make the proper clarifications, and correct any solecisms of policy. Student privacy and individual rights unjustly and ironically come under greater attack each day by the very institutions of higher learning that proclaim they respect open discourse and speech. Finally, I promise to never again embarrassingly misspell “paraphenalia”.
I am available for media contact; if interested, I encourage you to notify me through the contact link on my website. I will do my best to promptly respond.