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Professor Sues Student

     The Law School Admittance Test (LSAT) is taken before you apply to a law school and provides a score to be considered as part of the application process. Many law schools indicate that they equally weigh your undergraduate grades, with your LSAT score and your other extracurricular activities. The school can then say that they have accepted diverse backgrounds that might include a fighter pilot, poet and someone else who worked on Capitol Hill. The kinds of things for colorful brochures.

     In some instances, the admissions department would come right out and say that scores and grades were the primary basis for law school acceptance. Needless to say, getting good grades and a good test score were important. As a result, on many college campuses there were LSAT preparation courses that sprung up. The course that I took at Old Dominion University was taught by a Political Science professor of the college, who was making additional personal income by teaching the course.

     I recall going to the course, not quite knowing what to expect. After taking the four preparation classes that included some timed testing, I left the course feeling as though the professor had put little time in updating his information and really didn’t care whether we did well or not.

     At the time, I was a writer for the school newspaper called The Mace and Crown.  The editor of the paper allowed me to write on any topic and then he would edit out my tendency to write long ramblings Hmm… does that sound familiar???

     Following the course, I wrote an article reviewing the course. It expressed my dissatisfaction.  Then, some students wrote letters to the editor to also complain about the course, as past attendees. Later, I remember being told that the course was dramatically altered and that my article had something to do with it. My criticism was course related, rather than against the individual professor. I expect that the article has probably long disappeared from anyone else’s memory.

     I was reminded of that article when I read the ABC news story about the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater professor who is now suing his former graduate student for defamation, after the student posted online comments and videos that were critical of the professor. The student wrote comments on professor-rating sites and also made videos that accused the professor of his academic abilities for grading him unfairly, and improperly failing him in the course which  ultimately caused the student to drop out of school. 

     The professor’s attorney notes that the comments and videos can be especially damaging to someone in a small professional community. He doesn’t begrudge a student’s right to express an opinion, “but when you go so far beyond that, into a concerted effort to attack somebody’s reputation because things didn’t go your way, that’s much different”.

     The suit seeks damages and also that the comments and videos be taken down from the Internet. The student responded that, “I don’t feel I’ve gone too far with my videos and comments because everything posted basically communicates how Sally Vogi-Bauer (the professor) treated me.” The lawsuit seeks punitive damages and attorney fees.

     This is a little bit like yesterday’s blog that discussed the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling regarding a First Amendment freedom of speech versus the President’s safety. However, this lawsuit solely relates to what one person said about another. As noted in the news story, a similar case in Minnesota was decided for the posting student, in a protection of freedom of speech. It’s also a reminder that the Internet sure has changed in the concept of publication of opinion versus an old school newspaper.

     DID YOU KNOW that the letter “O” is used to represent a hug because it looks like arms hugging someone? Yes… I’m guessing you knew that!

     How about a bit of Friday rejoicing for pic o’ day.

friday cat

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