After receiving an apology letter from a recent ex-girlfriend, college student Nick Lutz decided to have some fun with it, correcting her spelling and grammar and posting the “graded” letter on Twitter, with a grade of D-, reported The Washington Post. His joke went viral—but now, it has resulted in the rising senior’s suspension.
Lutz (no relation to this writer) did not include his ex-girlfriend’s contact information, social media accounts, or last name in his tweet—just her (very common) first name. But that didn’t stop the University of Central Florida, where Lutz is studying sports management, from suspending him for the “disruptive” and “harmful” tweet.
Lutz, 21, is suspended from classes in the summer and fall 2017 semesters, his appeal letter claims. He also will be under probation until he graduates and have an assigned mentor. Finally, he must create a presentation about how his actions have “impacted others” and write a five-page paper on the “impact of this type of behavior in the future.”
His lawyer, Jacob Stuart, said that Lutz’s ex felt as though she was being cyberbullied, even going as far as to report the incident to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. Nothing came of this, but she also reported the incident to UCF—where she was not a student—and filed a grievance.
Now, Stuart said, Lutz’s first amendment rights are being violated by the publicly funded university.
“I think the damaging thing here is how does UCF decide what’s morally harmful?” Stuart said to The Miami Herald. “There was nothing derogatory about it. It was obvious he was making fun of her, but that’s the beauty of the constitution.”
The tweet did not include anything demeaning, derogatory, or threatening, Stuart said.
“The right to enjoy freedom of speech is by no mean absolute,” he said in the appeal. “Yet, there is only specific and extreme situations that this fundamental right is restricted by the government.”
Lutz is far from the only UCF student to write a social media post making fun of someone, Stuart said.
This “would lead to thousands of UCF students being suspended, much like Mr. Lutz, due to their comments and posts.”
“It’s important to understand that the process in this case may yet not be complete,” a spokeswoman for UCF said The Miami Herald, when asked to respond to the appeal.