School Settles Lawsuit With Student After Wrenching Joke From Context

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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A college settled a lawsuit with a student Tuesday after taking a joke that the student posted to social media out of context and framing it as a threat, which led to the student’s expulsion and arrest.

Michigan Technological University settled a lawsuit with former student Matthew Schultz over a comment that the former student had posted on the social media app Yik Yak, according to MLive.

“Gonna shoot all black people……A smile tomorrow,” Schultz wrote on Yik Yak, adding a smiley face emoji at the end.

A third party sent the university a screenshot of Schultz’s post, but included only the fragment which said “gonna shoot all black people.” Schultz says that he sent his full post to the school, but that the school chose to ignore it. The student was expelled from Michigan Technological University and arrested.

“[Michigan Tech] believes its actions in response were justified in light of its knowledge at the time, its interests in keeping its campus safe, and its obligations under federal law,” reads a press release that the university sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation, before saying that “a non-student’s role, including alteration of [Schultz’s] original post, worsened the situation.”

“The parties now agree that [Schultz] did not intend any physical harm,” acknowledged MTU in the press release. “While [Schultz] will not be returning to Michigan Tech, the University has agreed to expunge the expulsion and related discipline from his record. The parties agree that [Schultz’s] dreams of a successful career in mechanical engineering should not be compromised and are encouraged.”

The university noted that a settlement has also been reached in Schultz’s claim against the third party.

“This case tells a troubling tale that even after MTU realized Plaintiff’s social media post was significantly altered, they refused to back down, and perpetuated false public information for their own purposes,” said attorneys Nicholas Roumel and Steve Pence, reported MLive. “It calls into mind the political saw: ‘It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.'”

Michael Cavanaugh, an attorney for MTU, noted that the “intense reaction” Schultz’s post received was not shocking “given the horrific instances of gun violence that have occurred on university campuses across the country in recent years.” The attorney also noted that the “a smile tomorrow” excerpt of the former student’s post could have referred to something done after shooting black people, as opposed to being connected to the verb of “shooting.”

Pence alleged in 2016 that MTU had used Schultz as a “poster boy for white hatred” and had “knowingly perpetuated the myth that Matthew had written the altered post, in order to serve MTU’s own political purpose.” (RELATED: Student Sues After Expulsion For Completely Made Up Racist ‘Threat’)

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Schultz for comment, but received none in time for press.

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Rob Shimshock