NAS Defends Freedom of Speech in Barnes v. Zaccari

Ashley Thorne

Joining a coalition of fifteen organizations, NAS submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Barnes v. Zaccari. The Foundation of Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) authored the brief and has defended Hayden Barnes in this case.

Hayden Barnes was a student at Valdosta State University who in 2007, through emails, posters, and a letter to the student newspaper, peacefully protested the construction of new parking garages on campus and advocated more environmentally friendly alternatives. On his Facebook wall, Barnes posted a collage of pictures as part of his protest.

He also wrote to former VSU President Ronald M. Zaccari asking whether he could be exempt from the mandatory student fees that would be imposed to pay for the parking garage.

Zaccari responded by ordering that Barnes be “administratively withdrawn from campus,” stating that Barnes presented a “clear and present danger” to him and those at VSU because of his photo collage and the way Barnes had raised his objections to the parking garage construction. Zaccari expelled Barnes without following university disciplinary procedures. Thus Barnes was deprived of both due process and his right to freedom of speech.

The next year, at the urging of FIRE, Valdosta State University reversed its expulsion of Barnes, but as FIRE president Greg Lukianoff said in this video (as the parking garage construction went up in the background), "the damage is already done."

The NAS works to protect freedom of speech and Constitutional rights in American higher education. We join with FIRE and the other organizations who submitted the brief in defending free speech for Hayden Barnes.

For more details, see FIRE’s press release.

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