Education

America’s worst university now punishes student journalist for practicing journalism

Florida Atlantic University has found a new way to soil itself and to once again prove that it will not give up in its perpetual quest to be the worst place in America to go to college.

This time, school officials at the public, taxpayer-funded university summoned Dylan Bouscher, the editor-in-chief of FAU’s University Press student newspaper, on disciplinary charges for having the audacity to practice routine journalism.

The charges were related to Bouscher’s alleged refusal to obey a police order to leave a crime scene.

Bouscher and another unnamed student had driven the newspaper’s golf cart to the site of a suicide on FAU’s Boca Raton campus in August. He wanted to get information and take pictures. He said he remained well away from the area where there were indications of official police business.

At some point, a police officer, Robert Vickens, told him to leave. In a police report concerning the incident, Vickens stated that he ran off Bouscher and his colleague because they were “within the boundaries of the crime scene.”

“Vickens yelled my name,” he told The Daily Caller. “‘Dylan, you need to go away right now,’ he said. So I left.”

“I don’t believe I was near a crime scene or on a crime scene,” Bouscher later told the Student Press Law Center.

Bouscher then sought out another angle to view the police investigation. He settled on a public walkway “about four hundred feet away.” But that location wasn’t good enough, either. Another cop shooed him off. After some harsh words with the second cop, Bouscher left.

The result of this exchange was the four disciplinary charges including a charge of noncompliance.

Bouscher called the noncompliance charge in particular “absurd” and “completely fabricated.”

At a subsequent hearing, he said, the presiding dean threatened him “with more punishment” if he failed to cooperate by naming the student who went with him to the suicide scene.

He didn’t name the student.

In September, Bouscher acquiesced to two charges in order to have another two dismissed. He said he was worried that the charges could escalate into a criminal matter. He also wanted to protect the University Press from further administrative hassles.

“I accepted the charges because it just wasn’t worth it,” Bouscher told TheDC. “That wasn’t the hill I was going to die on, but I do believe my rights were violated.”

The dean’s kangaroo court slapped Bouscher with a year of probation. He has to perform 25 hours of community service. He also has to take something called an ethical decision-making class, which will cost him $100.

He said that he “wouldn’t do a thing differently” because, he argued, “police should have to tell students what’s happening on campus.”

“They just don’t like us asking questions,” he added. “It’s not the first time this has happened to an FAU reporter.”

Alicia Calzada, an attorney with the National Press Photographers Association, argued that FAU and the police acted illegally.

“They can ask you to leave if your presence is interfering with their investigation,” Calzada told the Student Press Law Center. “Just the fact they’re annoyed with you is not a reason for them to ask you to leave.”

School officials had no comment on the case, citing student privacy concerns.

This incident is the latest in a series of humiliations for FAU.

Among the biggest sources of embarrassment for the school is wackadoodle communications professor James Tracy.

In September, Tracy speculated on his personal blog, Memory Hole that the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard in September could have been an elaborate hoax. (RELATED: Bizarro professor spouts Navy Yard conspiracy theory)

After the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, the nutty professor took to his blog question official accounts of the terror attack, arguing that play could actors could have been involved. (RELATED: Professor calls Boston Bombings ‘mass casualty drill’)

Back in December, Tracy advocated conspiracy theories about the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. (RELATED: Public university professors join ranks of Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists)

Over the summer, Florida Atlantic adopted a draconian “Free Speech and Campus Civility” policy which insists “that everyone in the FAU community behave and speak to and about one another in ways that are not racist, religiously intolerant or otherwise degrading.” (RELATED: Florida Atlantic University is still the worst place in America to attend college)

In March, the the academic laughingstock tried to punish a student who expressed discomfort with a professor’s assignment to stomp on a piece of paper bearing the word “Jesus.” (RELATED: Florida Atlantic issues new groveling apology over Jesus-stomping)

Also last year, Mary Jane Saunders, FAU’s then-president, hit a student protester with the side mirror of her Lexus. The protesters were objecting to an agreement to name the school’s football stadium after a for-profit prison company.

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