Recently, a group of eight students at American University took to their group chat to discuss the Supreme Court's latest actions. SCOTUS's draft opinion regarding Roe v. Wade had just leaked, and the students had thoughts to share.
Three weeks after their texted conversation, the students received notifications from American University. They were under investigation for harassment. According to an email from their school's Equity & Title IX Office, their flurry of critical text messages could have gone against the school's discrimination and sexual misconduct policy.
As it happened, one of the students in the group chat disagreed with his peers. After feeling that he — and his religious beliefs and political affiliation — had been under attack in the group's recent conversation, the student brought his concerns to the school.
The students under investigation for harassment expressed disappointment at their university's policies. According to them, they had a right to complain — and they didn't say anything explicitly threatening.
Unfortunately for them, it may be easy to dispute that assertion.
Here's the Thing About Texts: They Can Form a Written Record
One alleged transcript of the concerning text messages is available online.
As a result, it may be more possible to investigate the filed harassment claims and sanction the involved students. American University's harassment policy bans intimidating and offensive speech towards individuals who have protected status — or for religion or political views.
The students who wrote those texts could face suspensions and even dismissals, which could impact their entire futures.
It's easy to think that when you're venting to friends, that's all you're doing. But if you're typing out something permanent and easy to reference, those statements can be held against you in the blink of an eye.
When the need to vent arises, it may be best to reserve strong statements for in-person conversations or conversations held over the phone or video call.
Of course, it's easy to say this in hindsight.
We've all sent a potentially problematic text or two. When those texts can get you in trouble, it's time to call in the pros to help you move forward.
In Trouble for Texting? Ask a Student Defense Advisor For Strategic Support
If you've sent texts (or emails) that could be concerning, you need a student defense attorney on your side to help you control your narrative.
The earlier you reach out to a professional, the better. Your lawyer may be able to help you limit who has access to your texts, for example — or negotiate with your school to reduce sanctions, so a text doesn't ruin your entire future.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have unparalleled experience helping students across the nation defend their reputations and future. They can help you, too. Call 888-535-3686 for a strong defense, or schedule a consultation online.