Today was not a normal day. This week has not been a normal week. Recently, my university filed a lawsuit against “John Doe” alleging defamation, libel, and harassment. I am “John Doe.”
I’m really Jess Zimmerman, and I’m a junior at Butler University in Indianapolis. What’s my offense? Last school year I wrote a blog that was critical of Butler’s upper administration. In my blog, The True BU, I used documents provided to me by members of the university community as the basis on which I formed my opinions. I don’t believe that anything I said was offensive, threatening, or otherwise wrong. What I wrote were simply my opinions but they happened to be opinions with which the Butler Administration did not agree.
Apparently, the opinions of a 20-year-old college sophomore, written in a blog, were too much for the University to handle. Now they’re throwing the full weight of their lawyers and their pocketbook at me.
I believe my story deserves to be told. Not just because it is interesting, and not just because I think the University is wrong, but because it could easily be you, too.
The Huffington Post picked up Jess' story, likening the school to Guantanamo Bay. Hyperbole? Perhaps. But the administration should have known that the Internet loves the 1st Amendment, underdogs, bloggers, and fighting frivolous lawsuits. This is not going to be a good thing for their future enrollment or alumni giving.