Breitbart.com today put national spotlight on Stockton University’s false claims of “bias incident” and misuse of “Campus Conduct Code” to bully and punish one of its doctoral students who openly opposed its “woke” BLM agenda.
Click below for FIRE “lawyer letter” to Stockton U. President Harvey Kesselman.
Robert Dailyda, an Egg Harbor Township resident, is an adult doctoral student at Stockton University. He is pursuing a degree in Organizational Leadership to advance his career as either an administrator or management consultant.
Because of the coronavirus, all Stockton classes have been held online via Zoom. At a regular class on July 1, Dailyda used a photo of President Trump as his Zoom background. The professor hosted the class and roughly 25 other students attended. The professor did not at any time object to the Zoom background of Dailyda or any other student.
During the class, one of those other students sent Dailyda a private message criticizing his choice of background.
Later that day, after class, Dailyda and several other class members participated in a a private “GroupMe online chat that was not related to Stockton or the class. In that chat, some other students also criticized Dailyda’s use of President Trump’s photo as his Zoom background and strongly urged that he take it down. Dailyda said he would not. This led to a spirited, but not threatening, back and forth discussion over the issue. At some point, Dailyda removed himself from the discussion to avoid further conflict.
Later that day, Dailyda posted a statement on his personal Facebook page which included these comments:
“I believe all must have the same opportunities and I commit to make that a priority. Beyond that, I am done with the leftist agenda of BLM and the white self haters. I have seen it in action in my doctoral classes at Stockton and the general media. I’m not backing down. If we can’t get past this, OK, I’m ready to fight to the death for our country and against those that want to take it down. I believe there are others like me”.
Two days later, Dailyda was contacted by Stockton campus police. An officer informed Dailyda that they had received a “report” accusing him of making threatening statements. Dailyda answered his questions, and gave a statement reciting the above facts.
Two weeks later, Dailyda was notified by Craig Stambaugh, Stockton’s Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Engagement & Community Development. Stambaugh informed Dailyda that the photo of President Trump on his Zoom background, plus his comments on the GroupMe chat and Facebook were “potential violations” of the following six sections of the “Campus Conduct Code”:
- Obstruction or Substantial Obstruction of University activities.
- Conduct that violates the University’s policy of prohibiting discrimination based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
- Unwelcome conduct based on actual or perceived sex, gender, race, color, age, creed, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, veteran status, pregnancy status, religion, sexual orientation.
- Severe, pervasive, persistent, and objectively offensive conduct that creates a hostile environment.
- Action that intentionally or recklessly causes or threatens bodily harm, presents imminent danger, or endangers the health or safety of any person.
- Repeated and/or severe aggressive conduct that intimidates or intentionally harms or controls another person physically or emotionally, and is not protected by law.
As a result, Dailyda was given three days to make an appointment for interrogation by Stacey Rose of Stockton’s “Care and Community Standards Office”. Dailyda did that.
On July 22, 2020, Amy Jones Rozell, Stockton’s Director of Care and Community Standards reported that in her opinion, Dailyda’s conduct had risen to the level of a “bias incident” and violated the “University Code of Conduct”. Dailyda was instructed to attend a “pre-hearing interview” on July 31. Here, an administrator informed Dailyda that he faced one or more of the following “discipline” or punishments:
- $50 Fine
- Community Service
- Attendance at “Social Justice Workshop” and/or “Decision Making Workship” (i.e. Political Re-Education)
The following week, Robert Dailyda contacted FIRE, “Foundation for Individual Rights in Education” located at 510 Walnut Street, in Philadelphia, PA.
Last Friday, FIRE responded directly to Stockton University’s President Harvey Kesselman and its legal counsel Brian Kowalski. It informed them that:
- Stockton University, as a government institution violated the First Amendment when it started proceedings to punish Robert Dailyda for lawfully and peacefully expressing his political opinions.
- For 50 years, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that the silent display of a political image or symbol cannot be banned as “disruptive”.
- Nothing Dailyda posted can be even remotely considered harassing or threatening.
Click below for the complete letter with attachments:
Bob Dailyda will be OK. He is an adult, he is financially independent, and he has access to lawyers and others to advise and help him. His rights will be protected. However, think of how this crude and disgusting bullying radical leftist students enabled by equally radical or “good Germans” Stockton administrators silences, intimidates, and traumatizes younger students, or students, staff, and faculty who are not willing or able to risk their careers to assert their rights.
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Seth Grossman, Executive Director