Thaddeus Pryor, a student at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado, says he was suspended for six months for comments he wrote on an anonymous social media app on Nov. 9.
Pryor told The College Fix that someone wrote “#blackwomenmatter,” on Yik Yak and he added, “They matter, they’re just not hot.”
“I was ashamed, because some people were clearly upset," Pryor said. “So I deleted it.”
Pryor recalled the next day: "Some people screenshotted the most racial things said [from Yik Yak that night], and they blew them up onto banners and hung them up in the student center in front of the dean’s office."
Pryor was called before a Student Life disciplinary panel where he admitted to posting the “not hot” comment, but added, “During my hearing, rather than presenting me with my possible violations then investigating my actions and how they may have constituted those violations, I was simply treated as broadly guilty.”
School officials called for Pryor to be suspended for 21 months, and banned him from taking courses for credit at other schools, but the suspension was reduced to six months in December.
Pryor said two of the school officials had a “bias” for focusing on “far more heinous” statements on Yik Yak that included “explicit language of white supremacy, racial slurs, and open hatred, all language and attitudes that I find despicable.”
Pryor believes that whoever squealed on him “misled” school officials.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent a letter to Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler on Nov. 25 calling on the private school to honor its student guide, which says “all members of the college community have such basic rights as freedom of speech.”
“Colorado College’s disciplinary action toward Pryor — a 21 month suspension — for posting what was intended to be a joke on social media completely contradicts the school’s promises of freedom of speech,” FIRE Senior Program Officer Ari Cohn said in a press release. “The college’s punitive and heavy-handed overreaction to Pryor’s social media post will have a chilling effect on campus discourse.”