NJ university drops charges over student’s Trump photo, Facebook post
GALLOWAY — Stockton University has dropped all disciplinary charges against a student who faced an inquiry after using a photo of President Donald Trump as the background of his Zoom feed during a virtual class.
The use of Trump's photo, along with a Facebook posting by Robert Dailyda in which he said that he would be willing to "fight to the death for our country and against those that want to take it down," led some classmates to file complaints claiming that they found the post to be "offensive, threatening and concerning."
Students complained that Trump's photo caused them to feel "offended, disrespected and taunted."
Dailyda faced disciplinary action for causing "substantial disruption" of university activities.
The disciplinary investigation became public after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which challenges restrictions on free expression on college campuses, came to the doctoral student's aid.
"Stockton finally did the right thing — but it shouldn't take action from FIRE and negative publicity to get a public institution to uphold students' First Amendment rights," Zach Greenberg, an attorney with FIRE, said this week.
If Dailyda had been found at fault, he could have been fined, suspended or ordered to take a "decision making workshop," FIRE reported.
In a written statement following the dismissal of the complaints, Dailyda said he was "hopeful that positive change will result from this case."
"I remain concerned that there are others who reached out to me in the process who don't have the wherewithal to push back in their own cases," he said.
A spokeswoman for the university previously confirmed that no disciplinary action had been imposed on the student and that university officials were barred from publicly discussing student disciplinary matters in detail.
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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.