Maybe “Laura,” a student journalist at Barry University, should have looked more deeply into the meaning of the university’s motto, emblazoned on its crest, which translates from the Latin to “to praise God, to bless His people and to preach His gospel.” The motto doesn’t specify which God or which gospel, and now Laura has been slapped with a suspension for helping conservative provocateur James O’Keefe film a video on campus in which a university employee gives advice on forming a club to support the Islamic State.
In the video, released by O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, Laura meets with an administrator who counsels her on creating a student group with the working title “Sympathetic Students in Support of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” In the clip, the administrator tells Laura that “we’re not here to limit people and their clubs” after she talks of sending aid to fighters with the Islamic State. At another point, a different administrator is supportive of creating a group to send humanitarian aid to the Islamic State, while only suggesting a modified name for the group because “technically, we’re at war with ISIS.”
Now, school administrators have suspended Laura, saying that she created a hostile environment for school employees.
Maria Alvarez, Barry’s dean of students, said in an email to the student:
In response to complaints filed by members of the University community on Wednesday, April 3, and received by my office this morning, April 6, 2015, your alleged actions were the cause root [sic] of disruption of the University community and the creation of a hostile environment for members of the University staff. Because these alleged actions violate Barry University’s Code of Conduct, effective immediately you are placed on Interim Suspension from Barry University.
The suspension means that Laura is barred from campus and can no longer attend class.
According to the Barry University Student Handbook, an interim suspension is only supposed to be used when a student is being investigated for a crime or “when a person constitutes a danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the University community and/or University property.” Based on the school’s email, it is unclear how Laura constituted a physical danger to anyone at the university.
Project Veritas condemned Laura’s punishment as unjust, as nothing she did was outside the law. In fact, if any party is guilty of underhanded behavior it is the university, whose public relations manager, Jeff LaLiberte, sent out an email to members of the media requesting they take down Project Veritas’s video after the story broke. O’Keefe’s group responded in a statement that read:
Project Veritas’ video recordings at Barry University were accomplished within the spirit and letter of the law. In Florida, where Barry University is located and where the recordings took place, it is perfectly legal to record an oral communication if a person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This is defined in Fla. Stat. 934.02(2). In this instance, Project Veritas recorded its operation in an open-office atrium, where office doors were open, where people were passing by in close proximity, and Barry University administrators took no steps to secure their privacy, thus, the recording is legal because it meets both statutory and case law requirements. see Fla. Stat. 934.03, Fla. Stat 934.02(2) which defines oral communications and the Florida Appeals Court’s interpretation of the law See Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services v. Edwards, 654 So.2d 628 (Fla. App. 1st Dist 1995) Fla. Stat. 934.02(2): “Oral communication” means any oral communication uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation and does not mean any public oral communication uttered at a public meeting or any electronic communication.
The Barry video is the second one released by Project Veritas purporting to show college administrators who are surprisingly open to students creating a club that would support the Islamic State. Another video released two week ago shows an administrator at Cornell University offering helpful advice on creating such a club.
This report, by Blake Neff, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.