Former Fordham University student Austin Tong is suing the school for banning him from the campus and from participating in any extracurricular activities affiliated with the school.
In short …
The school banned Tong, a Chinese immigrant, from the campus and its associated activities after sharing a photo of himself holding a legally owned gun on Instagram in June to honor the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.
The school also took issue with a post that was apparently critical of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Now he’s filling a lawsuit against the school for a violation of First Amendment rights.
You can read more about Tong’s Instagram posts here.
What are the details?
Tong’s lawsuit insists that the school discriminated against him and attempted to suppress his First Amendment rights even though a “significant motivation for Tong’s social media posts was his desire to recognize a historically significant event for Chinese-Americans.”
Dean of Students Keith Eldredge informed Tong that the school would be conducting an investigation into his social media posts because they reportedly made “members of the Fordham community” feel “threatened.”
Following the investigation, Eldredge announced that Tong would not be permitted on campus unless he received expressed permission from Eldredge. Tong was also directed to remotely finish his 2020-21 academic year and could not participate in in-person instruction.
The suit insists that the school permit Tong to exercise free expression, a protected right under the school’s policies and rules.
“Tong will not and should not have to comply with either of these requirements because he plainly did not violate any Fordham policies or rules and will not and should not have to submit to punishment for exercising his constitutional rights, and will not and should not have to compromise his good faith beliefs, principals, and virtues,” a portion of the suit reads according to Campus Reform.
In addition to banning him from campus and forcing him into distance learning, Tong said that the school imposed “Soviet-style interrogation” tactics to question him about the innocuous social media posts.
The suit points out that the school “violated its own policies and rules, which unequivocally commit the University to the protection and encouragement of free speech and expression.”
“[Fordham University] breached their end of the bargain with respect to the implied contract by imposing irrational discipline against Tong as set forth herein,” the suit points out, which insists that the student is “entitled to damages incidental to the primary relief requested herein.”
Tong and his legal team filed the suit at the Supreme Court of the State of New York on July 23.
Campus Reform attempted to receive a statement from a Fordham spokesperson on the matter, but received none at the time of this reporting.
Blaze Media reached out to Fordham University for a comment on the pending litigation, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Student Banned From Campus For Posting Picture With A Gun
A ‘reflection of the constitutional crisis we are facing today’ as Americans
Following his initial removal from the school, Tong told Campus Reform that his status as an immigrant places him in a unique position to appreciate all that America’s constitutionally protected rights have to offer.
“As an immigrant, a big beauty of America to me is the right it gives its citizens to bear arms, not only to protect themselves, but also to keep the government in check,” he explained at the time.
“I hope to use my punishment as a milestone and reflection of the constitutional crisis we are facing today as a society,” Tong added.
In late July, Tong told the the Washington Free Beacon that he refuses to apologize for the social media posts.
Tong’s lawyer, Brett Josphe, added, “For a mere $50,000 a year in tuition, Fordham has smeared our client’s reputation and permanently damaged his career prospects. This behavior by the school and its officials shocks the conscience, and there should be a heavy price to pay.”
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Author: Sarah Taylor
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