A university that punished a student for posting online an image marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China is being sued.

The Fordham Observer reported Fordham University had ruled that two of student Andrew Tong’s Instagram posts violated university rules against bias and hate crimes or were “threatening and intimidating.”

Tong said the charges are an attack on his free speech.

His lawsuit was filed in New York County Supreme Court.

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Tong’s punishment bans him from visiting campus without prior approval, taking leadership roles in student organizations and participating in athletics. He is also required to complete implicit bias training and write an apology letter.

The National Rifle Association supported Tong by posting a video about his dispute to its online account. In the video, Tong said, “Fordham University, see you in court, I am not backing down.

He shared his story with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.

“Well, you know, supposedly we have the First Amendment here and we have the Constitution, but that’s not what Fordham University thinks, that’s not what the bad people think,” Tong said.

“They want to silence any voice they do not like, and they silenced me because they don’t like what I said, and I will not back down to that,” he said.

Tong had posted an image of David Dorn, a black police officer who was killed in the nationwide protests that have followed the death of George Floyd.

He also posted a picture in which he’s holding a rifle.

University officials did not comment on the lawsuit.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, a group defending free speech on college campuses, had urged the university to drop its punishment of the student.

“Fordham has acted more like the Chinese government than an American university, placing severe sanction on a student solely because of off-campus political speech. In banning Tong from campus, placing him on disciplinary probation with threat of suspension, and issuing other sanctions, Fordham has betrayed not only Tong, but also its own ideals,” FIRE told the university

After Fordham’s investigation, dean of students Keith Eldredge informed Tong he was guilty of violating university policies on “bias and/or hate crimes” and “threats/intimidation.”

FIRE explained that as a private institution, Fordham is not bound by the First Amendment. But it is bound by the explicit, repeated and unequivocal promises of freedom of expression it makes to its students, including in its own mission statement: “Fordham strives for excellence in research and teaching and guarantees the freedom of inquiry required by rigorous thinking and the quest for truth.”


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