A New Jersey college has dropped code of conduct charges against a student after he ‘taunted’ peers by using a picture of Trump as his Zoom background and posted an inflammatory Facebook post saying he would ‘fight to the death for our country’.
Stockton University backed off five of the six student code of conduct charges leveled against doctoral student Robert Dailyda this week, but continued to pursue the charge of ‘disruptive behavior’ against him.
Dailyda was originally charged with disruptive behavior, discrimination, harassment, hostile environment, harm, and bullying and cyberbullying and faced possible suspension from the college if found guilty.
Stockton University sent a letter to the student Tuesday saying five of the charges had been dropped but that it is pursuing the ‘disruptive behavior’ charge over his ‘potentially violent, racist and intolerant’ social media post.
The saga began when Dailyda used a photo of Donald Trump as his Zoom background picture in class on July 1, according to a letter sent by Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) – the First Amendment group representing Dailyda – to the school’s president.
Another student sent Dailyda a private message on Zoom criticizing his choice of picture and later that day several other students also criticized the move in a private GroupMe chat.
The conversation allegedly got ‘heated’ and Dailyda left the group chat.
Hours later, Dailyda published a Facebook post saying he was ‘done with the leftist agenda of BLM and the white self haters’ and that he would ‘fight to the death for our county and against those that want to take it down’.
‘I have gotten to the point that I have to say something. I love this country. We are a diverse, yet assimilated population from all backgrounds,’ Dailyda wrote.
‘I believe all must have the same opportunities and I commit to make that a priority.
‘Beyond that, I am done with the leftist agenda of BLM and the white self haters. I have seen it in action in my doctoral classes at Stockton and the general media. I’m not backing down.
‘If we can’t get past this, ok, I’m ready to fight to the death for our county and against those that want to take it down. I believe there are also many like me.’
Dailyda also commented on his own post saying: ‘I’m surprised how many people are quiet… maybe not…’
Another person also commented on the post saying: ‘Bob Dailyda that’s what we do. (Quiet) but …we aim with persision (sic). Boom done. No drama.’
University police contacted the student days later saying they had received complaints about him making threatening statements.
They said other students found his comments ‘angry, potentially violent, racist and intolerant’.
The school also received complaints that Dailyda’s Trump photo ‘offended, disrespected, and taunted’ other students.
Dailyda told the school he was ‘disappointed with Stockton’s institutional endorsement of the Black Lives Matter movement, aspects of which he does not support’, according to the FIRE letter.
The school brought the six charges against Dailyda, warning he could face suspension, a $50 fine, community service project, or need to attend a social justice workshop decision-making workshop if found guilty.
The student hit back at the institution, claiming that punishing him for expressing his political views violates his First Amendment rights, according to the letter from FIRE.
The letter also claimed that his phrase ‘fight to the death for our country’ was ‘political hyperbole’ and that ‘no reasonable person would read it as a serious expression of an intent to undertake violence’.
‘As a public university, Stockton must tread carefully on metaphorical political rhetoric; we hope that this is not the hill Stockton wants to die on,’ it read.
Stockton University updated the charges Tuesday dropping five of the six but confirming it will pursue the ‘disruptive behavior’ charge against Dailyda.
The college also sent a letter stating that all of the original charges were related to the Facebook post and not to the use of the Trump photo.
FIRE tweeted Tuesday that Stockton University had dropped five of the six charges against Dailyda and vowed to continue to fight against the ‘remaining trumped-up “disruptive behavior” charge’.
Stockton University confirmed to DailyMail.com that a code of conduct complaint had been filed against Dailyda but that no disciplinary action has been taken.
A spokesperson said the college could not provide further information on the case.