Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

January 18, 2008

Expulsion reversed

VALDOSTA — An ongoing battle between the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and Valdosta State University student Hayden Barnes, who was expelled in May 2007 after using pictures on Facebook.com to protest the construction of two parking decks on campus, ended Wednesday after the Board reversed the expulsion.

The reversal comes one week after Barnes, who was “administratively withdrawn” from VSU after President Ronald Zaccari deemed him a “clear and present danger,” filed a federal lawsuit against the university alleging constitutional violations. Barnes was recently notified of the reversal by his lawyer.

“FIRE (Foundation of Individual Rights in Education) commends the Board of Regents for beginning to right the horrendous wrong committed against Hayden Barnes simply for exercising his First Amendment rights at a public university,” FIRE Senior Program Officer William Creeley said in a press release. “But the case should never have come this far. Barnes’ lawsuit will ensure that VSU answers for its unconstitutional actions in court.”

Hayden Barnes, a 22-year-old paramedic who has

attended VSU since 2005, was expelled after what he described as an attempt to generate debate on campus about the construction of two new parking decks on campus. He encouraged the idea of other, more eco-friendly alternatives such as university cooperation with the city on a bus system that could service the campus.

As part of his protest, Barnes posted flyers, sent letters to school administration and the university newspaper, the Spectator, and contacted the Board of Regents. In April, Barnes posted a picture collage on Facebook.com, which featured a picture of VSU President Dr. Ronald Zaccari, a parking deck with the VSU banner, an asthma inhaler and a bulldozer pushing the earth. The heading of the collage read, “S.A.V.E. — Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage.”

Because the heading suggested that the decks could be named “in memory” of Zaccari, the collage gained immediate attention.

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