Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fat Shaming?

Roosh (via Heartiste) has declared that a story about a graduate student who was temporarily suspended represents a "truly scary" violation of freedom of speech.  And just because the student made a fat joke!

OK, that's not exactly how it went down.

The graduate student, Joseph Aziz, had gotten into a kerfuffle with some other students whilst defending a Republican speaker on campus.  His online comment that one of the other students had legs like "bleached hams" appears to have been an ad hominem attack in the wake of what started as a heated ideological conflict.  In other words, his decision to publicly deride a classmate's physical appearance was not a conscious act of "fat shaming," but a lazy, juvenile attempt to undercut her political position.

Meh, it happens.

Aziz was first disciplined by the university, who "acted in accordance with its Student Code of Conduct which complies with the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, and other applicable federal and state regulations.’ 

The reprimand included an order that Aziz have no further contact with the other parties involved, either in person or online.  It was Aziz' violation of the no-contact rule that got him suspended.  He just couldn't seem to restrain himself from hopping back into the fray with another online reference to his victim's meaty calves.

"Aziz, a molecular biology student, said that he was shocked that a careless comment about a stranger’s appearance made online may have put his educational career in jeopardy."

I don't know about Montclair State, but every college I have attended or taught at issues Student Handbooks, in which expectations of student conduct are clearly delineated.  Part of those expectations are that students will help maintain a mutually respectful, collegial environment.  Granted, few students read these handbooks, but ignorance of the law is no defense, etc.

College admin and faculty are well aware that many of their students have not achieved full cognitive development; physiologically, the frontal lobe of the adolescent cerebral cortex is still maturing.  This is why Montclair State's initial discipline was mild.  Students are routinely given second chances for non-criminal misbehavior.  On the other hand, once warned, students are expected to comply or face possible expulsion.  The fact that Aziz has only been suspended for one term suggests the college emphatically does NOT want to "put his educational career in jeopardy." Aziz is disingenuous when he claims that it was a "careless comment" (that he later "regretted") that got him in hot water; on the contrary, it was his very deliberate choice to disobey a "cease and desist" order that forced the college admin's hand.

Five years up the road, if Aziz behaves in this manner with a co-worker, he will not get a pass from his employers.  Guys like Aziz' spell l-i-a-b-i-l-i-t-y to HR these days.  He will be out of a job, and he won't even qualify for unemployment.  (Hopefully, like Roosh, he can sleep in his dad's basement.)

Like businesses with employees, colleges are institutions that have the right to demand students and faculty comply with their policies on campus.  Are social media sites like Facebook or Youtube "off" campus?  It looks like the courts may determine this;  they may rule in Mr. Aziz' favor on this one.

Regardless, Mr. Aziz's reputation has been permanently tarnished, and it is likely to haunt him both professionally and socially for the rest of his life.  And it won't be because he doesn't like fat girls.  It will because of his demonstrated lack of judgment and self-restraint.

I've been warning my students for years that what they do online has consequences to their futures, and this is just another story to add to the canon... 

UPDATE:  Several days ago, Joseph Aziz' suspension was lifted.  
He's back in school.  It doesn't make anything I've written above less relevant, however, or his behavior less reprehensible.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoying this blog. I don't hate Roosh or anything... in fact, I'm part of the manosphere. But I enjoy reading well-thought-out responses.


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