The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

"UMass Lowell Stands with First Amendment, for Now, in Row over Student Tied to Neo-Nazi Hate Group"


Prof. Richard Pelz-Steele at UMass Law (Dartmouth) has the details; an excerpt:

UMass Lowell seems, so far, to be taking a principled position in a controversy over a neo-Nazi student.

According to Patch, the University of Massachusetts Lowell sent a letter to students and faculty last week saying that it could not suspend a student tied to a neo-Nazi, hate group simply because of the association.  At the same time, the university pledged to investigate specific threats, alleged crimes, or incidents of hate speech, and to enforce the Student Code of Conduct.

The student in question appeared on a live-stream posted on Telegram, and re-posted to Twitter by a watch group, with the founder of "NSC-131," an organization founded in opposition to Black Lives Matter and identified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League, Patch reported earlier this month.

A petition, with more than 11,000 signatures at the time of this writing, accuses UMass Lowell of being "blatantly permissive of not only racism and hate speech (which they state is protected under Freedom of Speech) but outright criminal activity and Neo-Nazism" in protecting the student.  The petition accuses the student, by name, of having violated already the Student Code of Conduct and, through alleged participation in the January 6 Capitol riot, the state vandalism law.  Patch reported the appearance of NSC-131 at the Capitol riot, but no personal involvement by the student….

Looks like the petitioners are partying like it's 1949, but the university is correctly resisting.