A Connecticut community college suspended a student veteran for his aggressive questioning of Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy during a public forum, prompting a First Amendment advocacy group to condemn the college for its flagrant disrespect for free speech and due process.
The student, Nicholas Saucier, tried to get Malloy to answer questions about his support for gun control legislation, which has put Saucier’s ammunition manufacturing business in jeopardy. Saucier followed Malloy to his car after the governor finished speaking at a public forum at Asnuntuck Community College. The exchange took place in October of last year, and was captured on video.
Shortly thereafter, Saucier received notice from the administration that he was suspended on grounds that his “continued presence on campus would present a danger to the persons, property and/or academic process of the College.”
The student was officially charged with engaging in harassment and showing disrespect for Malloy, in violation of ACC’s student code. Administrators claimed that Saucier became increasingly hostile, called Malloy a “fucking snake,” and reached into his pocket for something that could have been a weapon. (It was actually a video recording device.)
The college attempted to persuade Saucier to plead guilty to the charges and undergo counseling. He refused, opting instead for a formal hearing. At the hearing, administrators refused to let him play his recorded video, which he argued would acquit him by showing that he did nothing wrong. Saucier was found guilty of all charges. His suspension was lifted, but any further trouble from him and he will be expelled, administrators said.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has accused ACC of violating Saucier’s free speech and due process rights by disciplining him for speaking his mind and subjecting him to a sham trial.
“ACC’s myriad violations of Nicholas Saucier’s rights, effective rewriting of its conduct procedures, and failure to rectify its errors should give all Americans great concern,” said Peter Bonilla, director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, in a statement.
ACC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.