I assume that no one reading this blog is a stranger to the new case brought by Butler against Jess Zimmerman, a junior who has admitted to authoring the True BU. The Underground arose in response to the silencing of that blog, though we had no idea at that time how deliberate and sinister the actions taken by the university had been. Now that the lawsuit has come to light and Jess has "come out" as Soodo Nym, The Underground throws its full support behing Jess and the right to express dissent in public places on university campuses.
I am certain that Butler and its administrators would love nothing more for this to all go away, that students become disinterested, the faculty overwhelmed and that the lawsuit ends. They want wealthy alumni to donate and for new students to hand over their money in exchange for a "liberal arts" education. The very act of discussing this issue at all is an act of protest, an act of support for student voices on campus. Nothing is more important right now then getting the word out, then discussing and not fearing to express your ideas.
The "Friends of Jess Zimmerman" have started a petition demaning that Bobby Fong and the Board of Trustees issue an immediate apology for filing the lawsuit, "Butler University v John Doe a.k.a Soodo-Nym a.k.a. email@example.com," and for the accusations waged against Jess Zimmerman. I urge everyone to read and sign this petition which states very well the importance of this time in Butler's history.
I will place the petition text below. Click here to access the petition online and sign. Don't forget to read the comments and please refrain from anonymity.
"An Open Letter to President Bobby Fong and the Butler University Board of Trustees:
The actions taken in the name of Butler University in the law suit BUTLER UNIVERSITY v. JOHN DOE a/k/a "Soodo Nym" a/k/a firstname.lastname@example.org have become a national embarrassment to Butler University and are unfair to Jess Zimmerman, a current Butler student.
For this case to be the first one in the nation in which a university has sued a student over on-line speech issues is a mistake that Butler University must correct. Whatever one may think of it, the content of the TruBU blog was certainly not so egregious that Butler should be attempting to use it to break new legal ground with respect to freedom of speech issues. Steps need to be taken to ensure that Butler University does not become synonymous with the stifling of the free expression of ideas.
Similarly, the accusations made against Jess Zimmerman by the Butler administration have been unfair, harmful and wrong-headed. Even more important, they are transparently false and thus they too place Butler University in the worse possible light. For President Fong to quote a portion of one sentence from an email that Jess Zimmerman did not write in a manner that implies that he was, in fact, the author and then to use those words to claim that action had to be taken to protect the campus community from violence of the sort experienced by the students, staff and faculty of Virginia Tech University is a disgrace and an insult to all who have been a part of violent tragedies. Similarly, for President Fong to say, "Butler does not tolerate racial and sexual epithets in the name of free exchange of ideas," in his criticism of The TruBU blog and of Jess Zimmerman when no such epithets existed in the blog or have been attributed to Jess Zimmerman is also a disgrace and trivializes the all too frequent instances in which such hateful speech is used in our society. These statements present Butler University in an unflattering light.
Therefore, we request that President Fong and the Butler University Board of Trustees immediately take steps to correct their actions. In particular, we request that President Fong and the Butler University Board of Trustees:
1. Issue an immediate apology for filing the BUTLER UNIVERSITY v. JOHN DOE a/k/a "Soodo Nym" a/k/a email@example.com lawuit; and
2. Issue an immediate apology for the accusations made against Jess Zimmerman.
These two actions, if taken swiftly and sincerely, will help bring this affair to a close and begin to repair the damage done to Butler University's good name."