On Thursday, March 5th we learned that a nursing student at the University of Louisville was expelled because of a post on her MySpace account.
And it’s official. A law suit was filed today alleging the University has violated rights to free speech.
The student, Nina Yoder, filed suit against the University of Louisville, serving the following people: Angela Koshewa, UofL General Counsel; Jack Conway, Kentucky Attorney General; Dr. Ermalynn Kiehl, Associate Dean at UofL; and Dr. Marcia Hern, professor at UofL.
The suit alleges Yoder was expelled after posting her personal opinions on MySpace. They didn’t create a disturbance, didn’t breach confidentiality of any kind and didn’t advocate or endorse any illegal activity whatsoever. But she was kicked out of school, with no warning and no notice of charges against her, and wasn’t allowed to defend herself or present her side of the story during an appeal– which was denied with no reason specified. Long story short, Yoder’s right to free speech under both the Constitution and Kentucky law (sections one and two of the state constitution) was allegedly violated, she was retaliated against by University faculty.
We could go on for days, so let’s take a look at the factual allegations (edited for brevity/clarity, see the full suit by CLICKING HERE):
- February 26 – Yoder received a call from Glenda Adams, professor at the Nursing School, who stated that she needed to meet with Plaintiff in person the following morning.
- February 27 – Yoder arrived at the Nursing School and was greeted by Dr. Ermalynn Kiehl, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs, who escorted her into an office with two persons believed to be police or campus security officers.
- Dr. Kiehl informed Yoder that she (Kiehl) had “pictures” and that “students voiced concerns that lead us [the University] to believe you may have a gun.”
Read the rest and see the evidence after the jump…
- Yoder did not have a gun in her possession at that time, and has never brought any firearm onto University campus.
- Yoder was subjected to a pat-down search by the two security officers, and was found not to have any firearms or anything illegal on her person.
- After Yoder was searched, Dr. Kiehl presented her with a printouts of posts allegedly made by Yoder to on her personal MySpace profile page. Here are those postings:
CLICK FOR EXHIBIT 1
- The posts were the personal beliefs of Yoder, did not create a disturbance, did not breach confidentiality of any kind, and did not advocate or endorse any illegal activity.
- Dr. Kiehl informed Yoder that she could not allow her to become a nurse due to the nature of her posts.
- Dr. Kiehl further informed Yoder that she had been withdrawn from all of her classes, and that she was considered “persona non-grata,” and not allowed to enter the University’s campus.
- On or about March 2, 2009, Yoder received a letter from Marcia J. Hern, Dean and Professor at the Nursing School, which confirmed her “academic dismissal” due solely to her “internet postings.” Here’s that letter:
CLICK FOR EXHIBIT 2
- Per the Nursing School’s procedures, Yoder submitted a petition for review of her dismissal to the Undergraduate Academic Affairs Committee. See that here:
CLICK FOR EXHIBIT 3
- Yoder’s petition (above) specifically complained of violations of her constitutional rights by the Defendants.
- Yoder was not allowed to attend the meeting of the Undergraduate Academic Affairs Committee in which her petition was decided, nor was she allowed to contact anyone from the University to inquire as to the status of the petition.
- On or about March 11, 2009, Yoder received a letter from Dr. Kiehl informing her that her petition was denied. No further reasons for her dismissal was given in the letter, which is here:
CLICK FOR EXHIBIT 4
Can you believe this? Expelled by a public university for expressing her opinions on a private website. Then she wasn’t allowed to defend herself or address allegations made against her. She appealed the expulsion, which was denied, with no reasoning given. And the University of Louisville thinks this is a-okay.
First the myriad Robert Felner scandals and now this? We don’t remotely agree with anything Yoder had to say on her blog, but what on earth? I have a feeling the national higher education community is going to lose its cool over this mess.
What do YOU think, dear reader?