Should universities be involved in relationship break-ups that go sour? It’s an interesting question without an easy answer, something the University of Chicago is learning right now.
In January, University of Chicago student Andrew Thompson posted photographs of his ex-girlfriend and others on Facebook in an album entitled “[Name of ex-girlfriend] cheated on me, and you’re next!”
The next day, the ex-girlfriend complained to the university about Thompson’s actions. The university sent Thompson an email telling him to remove the album from his Facebook. This week, after the incident was featured by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the Chi Town Daily News covered the story, prompting widespread discussion of the university’s actions.
The ex-boyfriend was clearly in the wrong. He was trying to embarrass his ex-girlfriend and was seeking a form of revenge.
That said, it is not the place of the university to threaten consequences against students for off-campus actions. However, it would have been well within the rights of the university to talk to Thompson and advise him of the consequences of his actions.
This situation is a good example of the narrow line between freedom of speech and a university trying to maintain a good reputation, a line that has been made a bit narrower by the Internet.