Student suspended over Facebook post

Oct. 14, 2011 at 4:00 AM
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HICKORY, N.C., Oct. 13 (UPI) -- A North Carolina college student said he was suspended for two semesters for a joking Facebook post expressing his displeasure with the school's debit cards.

Marc Bechtol, a marketing student at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, said his post was meant as a joke and referred to the e-mail spam he received after activating his school debit card, which he said he did not want but was forced to use as a school ID and activate to receive his grant money, WCNC-TV, Charlotte, N.C., reported Thursday.

"Anyone else's inbox full of spam today? I wonder if they'd like it if we register them with every porn site known to man. Anyone know of any good viruses we could send them?" the Facebook post read.

He said he posted a follow-up a few moments later reading, "OK, maybe that would be a bit excessive."

However, he said CVCC officials did not see the humor in his post and sent him a letter calling it "disturbing" and saying it "indicates possible malicious action against the college."

The letter said Bechtol was being suspended from two semesters and banned from campus for that time.

"They even threatened to have me arrested while leaving," Bechtol said.

Bechtol said he contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which described his post as protected speech.

FIRE contacted the school Wednesday, and Bechtol said he soon heard from officials that he would be allowed to attend class Thursday. However, he said he has heard no official word regarding the status of his suspension.

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