The Volokh Conspiracy

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University of Central Florida rescinds suspension for student who tweeted out his 'grading' of ex-girlfriend's apology note


Several readers pointed me to the story about a student being suspended from the University of Central Florida for publicly "grading" his ex-girlfriend's breakup letter; here's a summary from Katie Mettler here at The Post:

Nick Lutz says the four-page apology note, handwritten on lined white notebook paper, appeared under the windshield wiper of his truck last winter.

It came from an ex-girlfriend whom he had blocked by phone and on social media. She wanted to say she was sorry, and she took some liberties with spelling and grammar in the process.

Lutz, still feeling betrayed by the breakup, saw an opportunity.

Like a teacher grading a paper, he took a bright red pen and savaged it, correcting mistakes and leaving commentary in the voice of a perturbed copy editor. Lutz assigned her a grade, a D-minus and wrote that he would accept "revision for half credit."

Then he posted a picture of it to Twitter.

"When your ex writes you an apology letter so you grade it to send it back," Lutz captioned the tweet, which went predictably viral, shared 121,000 times and liked 337,000 times, and spurred a swarm of journalists from across the globe to write about his "savage" words.

That was five months ago.

Now, the University of Central Florida, where Lutz is a rising senior studying sports management, has decided to suspend him over the viral tweet because, the school said, it violated the student code of conduct for being "disruptive" and "harmful." …

[Lutz's lawyer Jacob] Stuart wrote in [Lutz's] appeal that the ex-girlfriend, who felt she was cyberbullied, filed a complaint with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, but the case was never prosecuted. She then complained to the university, where she is not a student.

I don't think that's permissible—rude, unkind and ungentlemanly as this speech may be, it's protected by the First Amendment—but in any event, just this morning UCF rescinded the suspension: