Student Sues After Expulsion For Completely Made Up Racist ‘Threat’


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Blake Neff Reporter
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A former student at Michigan Technological University (MTU) is suing the school, saying he was railroaded out of the university after an innocuous joke so the school could claim it was tough on racism.

Matthew Schultz’s life suddenly fell apart last fall in the wake of racial protests at the University of Missouri and several other colleges. On November 12, Schultz logged into Yik Yak, an anonymous chat app popular on campuses, and posted “Gonna shoot all black people… a smile tomorrow,” followed by a smiley face emoji.

Even though Schultz’s comment was, if anything, supportive of black people, MTU students and administrators reacted with tremendous hostility.

The university allowed Schultz to be framed by a hostile student, Ryan Grainger, who allegedly cropped Schultz’s post to only show the phrase “Gonna shoot all black people” and then forwarded it to MTU’s deputy police chief, according to Schultz’s lawsuit.

After receiving Grainger’s message, university police issued a public warning to the whole campus, ordered Yik-Yak to identify the author, and then arrested Grainger for allegedly committing domestic terrorism, a 20-year felony. Eventually, the charge was downgraded to a misdemeanor of disturbing the peace, which was in turn quickly dropped, with the prosecutor’s office saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

According to the lawsuit, MTU officials saw Schultz’s full, uncropped post very early and knew it wasn’t a real threat, but continued to vilify him anyway. The day after the initial announcement, a school official said Schultz had “said they wanted to shoot all black people,” even though the school already knew that wasn’t the entire post.

The suit also accuses the school of helping organize a protest march intended to pressure local prosecutors into treating Schultz more harshly.

“Matthew would be sacrificed in the name of showing MTU’s commitment to fighting racism,” the suit claims.

The suit suggests the school was motivated by embarrassment over a recent incidents where students wore blackface and displayed a Confederate flag.

Even after the charges were dropped, Schultz’s ordeal wasn’t over.

The same day he was cleared by prosecutors, MTU’s conduct board held a closed-door meeting and placed Schultz on probation for 18 months, according to the lawsuit. Neither Schultz nor his attorney were allowed to attend the hearing. When Schultz tried to appeal, Dean of Students Bonnie Gorman allegedly responded by having him expelled, again with no hearing.

Schultz says his academic career has been badly sidetracked, and he wants damages of $75,000.

“Presently, Matthew remains out of school with no hope of resuming his studies anywhere, having been labeled a virulent racist by a University with a history of botched investigations and an inability to do other than protect the institution and the lives of its administrative careerists, at any cost to the students or the truth,” the suit says.

MTU didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but told The Associated Press it plans to vigorously contest the lawsuit.

Schultz is far from the first student to sue his school over an allegedly unjust expulsion. Many male students have sued their schools, claiming they were pushed out over dubious rape accusations. In 2015, a student was awarded $900,000 from Valdosta State University in Georgia after he was expelled for a series of social media posts criticizing school administrators.

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