"Colorado College has denied student Chris Robinson's appeal of its finding that he and another student violated the school's "violence" policy for posting a flyer that parodied a flyer of the Feminist and Gender Studies program. The school also has decided not to remove any letters about the case from the students' files until after graduation. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is assisting Robinson in his case against the school.
"First, Colorado College trampled over Chris Robinson's right to engage in an obvious parody, and now the school has further embarrassed itself by denying his appeal," FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. "The judicial procedure was a joke: the same administrator who found Robinson guilty in the first place was the final judge of his appeal. FIRE calls on Colorado College to remove this guilty finding once and for all from the students' records. As long as they are deemed guilty for engaging in satire, the school's extensive promises of free expression are brazen misrepresentations."
In early 2008, Colorado College's "Feminist and Gender Studies Interns" distributed a flyer called "The Monthly Rag," which included a reference to "male castration," an announcement about a lecture on "feminist porn," and an explanation of "packing" (pretending to have a phallus). As a parody of "The Monthly Rag," Robinson and a second student, who wishes to remain anonymous, distributed a flyer in February called "The Monthly Bag" under the pseudonym "The Coalition of Some Dudes." The flyer included references to "tough guy wisdom," "chainsaw etiquette," the shooting range of a sniper rifle, and a quotation about "female violence and abuse" of men from the website batteredmen.com.
After the "Dudes" faced penalties including expulsion for three weeks, Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students Mike Edmonds finally wrote to the "Coalition of Some Dudes" students on March 25, stating that they had been found guilty of "violating the student code of conduct policy on violence." The punishments included having the finding of guilt placed in their student files and being required to hold a forum to "discuss issues and questions raised" by their parody. Although Edmonds acknowledged that the intent of the publication was to satirize "The Monthly Rag," he wrote that "in the climate in which we find ourselves today, violence-or implied violence-of any kind cannot be tolerated on a college campus." According to Edmonds, "the juxtaposition of weaponry and sexuality" in an anonymous parody made students subjectively feel threatened by chainsaws or rifles.
"Colorado College should declare the students innocent immediately," Kissel said. "FIRE will continue to pursue this case until these students' records are completely cleared of any alleged wrongdoing. President Celeste still has a chance to do justice in this case."
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