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Student Banned From Minnesota Campus Over Facebook Comments 806

Posted by timothy
from the but-we're-gonna-kill-ya-slow dept.
Be careful just how you vent online is the lesson from this story pointed out by reader kungfugleek, from which he excerpts: "A University of Minnesota student has been banned from the Twin Cities campus after three of her instructors felt threatened by some of her Facebook postings. Amanda Tatro was patted down and questioned by campus police when she got to class Monday. The 29-year-old mortuary science student had posted comments on her Facebook page after breaking up with her boyfriend. She told her Facebook friends she wanted to stab a 'certain someone in the throat' with an embalming instrument. Tatro said she was 'looking forward to Monday's embalming therapy.' When the instructors learned of the postings, they contacted police." The Star-Tribune's account offers more detail.
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Student Banned From Minnesota Campus Over Facebook Comments

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  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:31PM (#30462108)

    What she needed is for people to fucking keep out of her business and put an end to all of this 'thoughtcrime' bullshit.

    Yeah, posting violent fantasies on a social networking site is a good way to make sure people stay out of your business.

  • Re:My god. (Score:2, Informative)

    by alexborges (313924) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:44PM (#30462406)

    All four were pretty violent in their writings (and some of them in their lives).

  • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:47PM (#30462460)

    So you feel that the professors are taking responsibility for destroying a person's college career because she was emotional after a breakup?

    From the article:

    Despite Tatro's concerns that her ban from campus will mean not being able to participate in the process of reviewing her case, Wolter said that "students are entitled to due process and to participate in the process, as well as an appeals process should they disagree with the outcome."

    Tatro hopes that happens quickly: She's already missed an exam and is set to miss several more. She has since set her Facebook profile to private.

    I've read a couple of comments about how her college career is "destroyed", etc. That has yet to be determined. I support the professor's decision, but I hope the University doesn't permanently ban her.

  • Re:My god. (Score:4, Informative)

    by BarryJacobsen (526926) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:47PM (#30462468) Homepage

    nineeleven

    nine... ... eleven...

    NINES AND ELEVENS!

    I believe I speak for all Americans when I say: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  • by TheLostSamurai (1051736) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:53PM (#30462574)

    Yes, but how do you know the difference?

    Even small statements made online are not devoid of context. If there is a rash of this behavior and a reoccurring pattern of such statements then yes, they should be taken seriously. However, if a student who has no history of violence or even anti-social behavior* makes an off-the-cuff statement such as this it should be taken in the appropriate context of an upset person venting frustration.

    As is noted, this was posted on facebook for all the world to see. If it were truly a threat it would either be in a much more personal venue or you would likely be able to see a pattern of other such public statements.

    *yes I know this is overly generalized and not really a valid way to assess anything about a person.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:54PM (#30462614)

    You don't know the difference. And it doesn't matter. The real issue here is that angry statements are a very common way of blowing off steam, and campus killings (let alone spree killings, which happen so infrequently you'd be better off wasting your adrenaline worrying about being raped by a rabid walrus on main street) very rare. The false positive rate is astronomical.

    Saying, after any given incident, "if we'd just paid more attention to when Timmy said he wanted to shoot someone, this all could have been prevented" is exactly like saying, of a patient who died of a rare occult brain cancer, "if we had paid attention that one time she said she had a headache, she'd be alive".

    People get angry. Get over it. No, what she said wasn't particularly polite, but at least it wasn't the sort of saccharine political correctness and obsequious niceness that characterizes modern life.

  • Re:never a good plan (Score:3, Informative)

    by farble1670 (803356) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:58PM (#30462698)

    you can't threaten the president. see 18 USC Sec. 871,

    "...Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail or for a delivery from any post office or by any letter carrier any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States, the President-elect, the Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President of the United States, or the Vice President-elect, or knowingly and willfully otherwise makes any such threat against the President, President-elect, Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President, or Vice President-elect, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."

  • by dfxm (1586027) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @03:03PM (#30462788)

    Well, i feel threatened by my openly gay professor, based on comments on his personal page that he was gay.

    If there dosen't have to be any merit to my feelings of "threat", will the school ban him without thinking about it?

    No, because being gay is not a crime, while stabbing someone in the throat is.

  • Re:My god. (Score:3, Informative)

    by couchslug (175151) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @03:27PM (#30463208)

    She just learned a useful life lesson, not to be stupid. This will serves as an example to others.
    She doesn't own the campus and getting tossed therefrom isn't different than being fired for cause by an employer.

    She has a legal right to speech, but others have legal rights to act towards her based on that speech.

    I can lawfully tell my boss to suck my piles, and he can lawfully terminate my employment if that opportunity offends him.

  • Re:My god. (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @03:51PM (#30463650) Journal

    This shit really gets under my skin. The school had every "right" to do what they did, but the actions they chose were the most destructive ones they had available to them.

    Before you let shit get under your skin, you should really read the article:

    Police are not filing charges and consider the matter closed, U spokesman Daniel Wolter said by e-mail. Privacy law prevents the U from commenting on the specifics of Tatro's case, but Wolter said that "in a case such as this, the case is typically referred to our Office for Student Conduct and Academic Integrity, which will interview the student, review evidence and make some kind of finding."

    Emphasis mine. Sounds kind of like they're doing what you suggested. She's banned until they're more comfortable with her presence (reasonable) and she was patted down because they couldn't exactly prevent her from showing up for class. The problem was that this isn't like high school, they can't immediately get her into a room with a counselor first thing. So it sounds like they banned her until she undergoes counseling. I suppose she has the option to comply or remain banned.

    How is that destructive? If you think that's the "most destructive" you are dead wrong. They could have pressed charges, voided her transcript, not offered to counsel her, etc. In fact they won't even give official word on the counseling to protect her privacy. It really sounds like they have her's and the teacher's best interests and safety in mind.

  • by sonnejw0 (1114901) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:20PM (#30464086)
    Exactly. The instructor should take her aside while in class and say something like "I heard someone mention your facebook status, if you need anyone to talk to let me know and I can help or find someone that can help. Facebook is a public place, though, and in this day and age anything can be interpreted in many different ways so be careful what you post."
  • by sonnejw0 (1114901) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:21PM (#30464100)
    Oh, and she was learning to become a mortician? Of course she uses dark humor!
  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:45PM (#30465736) Homepage

    What about this?
        http://cabinet.auriol.free.fr/Documents/cache_catharsis.htm [auriol.free.fr]
    """
    Popular belief in the catharsis theory remains strong despite the theory's dismal record in research findings. According to the catharsis hypothesis, acting aggressively or even viewing aggression is an effective way to reduce anger and aggressive feelings. One likely reason for the continued widespread belief in catharsis is that the mass media continue to endorse the view that expressing anger or aggressive feelings is healthy, constructive, and relaxing, whereas restraining oneself creates internal tension that is unhealthy and bound to lead to an eventual blowup.
        The present research was concerned with a pair of related questions. First, can media support for the catharsis hypothesis cause people to engage in catharsis-seeking activities, such as aggressive action? Second, if media messages do persuade people to believe in the effectiveness of catharsis, will their own indulgence in aggressive action produce that effect?
        The concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy suggests that people's beliefs can shape their choices and the outcomes of their actions, so that expectations tend to come true by virtue of the changed behaviors resulting directly from the expectations (e.g., Darley & Fazio, 1980). Although researchers have mostly failed to find laboratory evidence of catharsis effects, it is plausible that media endorsement produces such self-fulfilling prophecies, which in turn might be sufficient to sustain popular belief in catharsis. In the present research, we provided people with procatharsis messages telling them that acting aggressively or expressing anger is a good way to reduce inner tensions. Consistent with the self-fulfilling prophecy notion, we investigated whether such messages would increase behavioral choices of aggressive activity following an anger provocation (Study 1) and, more important, would help produce the anticipated benefits of expressing anger (Study 2)--specifically, by reducing aggressive behavior toward another person after the participant was supposedly able to reach catharsis by hitting a punching bag.
    """

    That said, I agree with you lots of aspects of our current social system, especially the school system, are messed up in various ways. My own thoughts on how to fix them:
        "Post-Scarcity Princeton, or, Reading between the lines of PAW for prospective Princeton students, or, the Health Risks of Heart Disease"
        http://www.pdfernhout.net/reading-between-the-lines.html [pdfernhout.net]

    Also related by me more recently on education issues:
        http://www.cnewmark.com/2009/12/making-govt-work-a-huge-step.html#comments [cnewmark.com]
        http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-October/005379.html [listcultures.org]
        http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-November/005584.html [listcultures.org]
        http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-November/006005.html [listcultures.org]

  • Yawn...This again? (Score:2, Informative)

    by aitikin (909209) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:46PM (#30465752)
    This happened at Eastern Illinois University sometime last year. It was even worse at EIU as the reason the student was banned and expelled was his status saying, "[on Tuesday] things are going down." That Tuesday happened to be his birthday, with a big party going on at the bowling alley. There also happened to be a major sports conference going on Tuesday night. Simply outrageous action, but... That being said, everything that can be found on the subject has very little to do with what the university states and is almost entirely heresy from the banned former student as the university's policy is to not comment on such occurrences and EIU's journalism is not necessarily the best. Links posted below for interested parties to follow: http://media.www.dennews.com/media/storage/paper309/news/2009/03/03/News/33.Update.Student.Banned.From.Campus.For.Allegedly.Posting.Threats-3656537.shtml [dennews.com] http://media.www.dennews.com/media/storage/paper309/news/2009/03/04/News/Student.Threat.Was.A.Misunderstanding-3658414.shtml [dennews.com] http://media.www.dennews.com/media/storage/paper309/news/2009/03/05/Opinions/Editorial.Walkers.Banning.Leaves.Questions.Unanswered-3660348.shtml [dennews.com] Yeah, break ups happen and making some statement about how much you want to kill your ex happen as well, not that we would know as we all are on /. but still. When someone gets banned and expelled for saying, "in five days things are going down," something's really wrong.
  • by BronsCon (927697) <social@bronstrup.com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:37PM (#30466506) Journal

    You're absolutely correct; and for that, I'd like to stab you in the throat.

  • Re:what's next (Score:3, Informative)

    by myowntrueself (607117) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:36PM (#30467128)

    in 6 months listening music will be illegal and dangerous, in one year thinking wil be a threat,

    In the UK all knowledge is banned already.

    Theres a law that says its illegal to possess any information that may be useful to a terrorist.

  • by LBt1st (709520) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:37PM (#30468652)

    Yes because adults never have emotions.

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