Tufts University is once again back in the news. Several weeks ago, Tufts students made national headlines by directing abusive comments on Facebook towards me. I attempted to raise awareness about Tufts’ speech codes through social media. I posted a blog post from Students Advocating for Students’ website in the Tufts Class of 2019 Class of 2020 Facebook pages. The post detailed the policies in Tufts’ handbook that threaten students’ ability to freely express themselves.
SAS is a national non-profit organization dedicated to protecting students’ rights to free speech and due process. In response to the Facebook posts, hundreds of students posted and “liked” racist, sexist, and abusive comments against me. Are you ready for some déjà vu?
On October 25, I again posted an SAS blog post in these Tufts Facebook pages. This post was designed to raise awareness of the fact that “there are severe consequences for wearing an offensive [Halloween] costume” at Tufts. The leaders of four student governing bodies for Greek life at Tufts privately sent out a letter to the presidents of Greek life chapters. The aforementioned quotation is from this letter.
This leaders of Greek life threatened students with this letter. They wrote that anybody “who direct[s] conduct towards others that is offensive” will face “OEO [Office of Equal Opportunity] and/or TUPD [Tufts University Police Department] investigation[s] and then disciplinary sanctions from [the Dean of Student Affairs’ Office] that could run a wide gamut … Any complaints will result in full investigation by University officials and could result in serious disciplinary sanctions through Judicial Affairs.”
This portion of the letter is a direct quote from the Dean of Student Affairs. The letter then encourages students to file reports if they see “someone who is wearing an inappropriate and offensive costume.”
As stated earlier, this letter was sent out as a private email to members within the Tufts Greek life system. Upon obtaining and published the letter, SAS was contacted by the authors who demanded that we remove their names from all publicly published versions of it. To be clear, their names were not redacted from the privately sent letter.
Within two days, SAS’s post was reported on by The College Fix then talked about on The O’Reilly Factor and Good Morning America. All national reports were critical of Tufts for enforcing this policy. Tufts’ response was to release an announcement that praised the content of the letter but also denied this content’s existence.
The reaction from the student body was also highly critical…of me. Students took to Facebook to call me a “dipshit” with a “fragile male ego” who should just “shut the fuck up.” As dismaying as this may seem, I joined the fight for free speech to expose and change policy, not to make friends.