Update 2015-07-24: Hayden adds detail in comments on this article: Andy Thomas, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 23 July 2015, Valdosta State U. Will Pay $900,000 to Settle Student’s Free-Speech Lawsuit.
Finally! Expelled for protesting a parking garage, after VSU then-president Zaccari claimed a facebook collage was “threatening”. If the powers that be around here want to be a metropolitan area, maybe VSU should act like an institution of higher learning. Then it wouldn’t have to pay settlements like this.
Katie Barrows, FIRE, 23 July 2015, Eight Years After Student’s Unjust Expulsion from Valdosta State U., $900K Settlement Ends ‘Barnes v. Zaccari’
Today, more than eight years after his unjust expulsion, student Hayden Barnes’ federal civil rights lawsuit against Georgia’s Valdosta State University (VSU) and former VSU president Ronald Zaccari concluded with the announcement of a $900,000 settlement.
In the spring of 2007, Barnes was expelled from VSU by Zaccari for a satirical environmentalist collage he posted on his personal Facebook page. With the help of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Barnes fought back by filing a civil rights lawsuit in 2008 against the university, Zaccari, other VSU administrators, and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.
“After eight years, and one of the worst abuses of student rights FIRE has ever seen, Hayden Barnes has finally received justice,” said FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff. “Thanks to Hayden’s courageous stand, would-be censors at public universities nationwide have 900,000 new reasons to respect the free speech and due process rights of their students.”
“I am pleased to have finally reached a resolution. It has been an epic journey,” said Barnes. “However, it was a worthwhile endeavor because I know as a result of this case other students will have their constitutional rights respected. I sincerely appreciate the work of my counsel and of FIRE, both of whom were instrumental in achieving justice.”