Daily Archives: October 20, 2007

Blogger wins first amendment victory over North Harris Montgomery Community College District!

Saw this story this morning in the Houston Chronicle, and thought it was worth highlighting, even if the stakes seem rather small:

A lawsuit against the North Harris Montgomery Community College District will be withdrawn after college officials restored campus computer access to a blog critical of the chancellor, the plaintiff said Friday.

Richard C. McDuffee, 58, of Oak Ridge North, visited the college campus Friday afternoon and said he will drop the suit after confirming the blog is accessible on campus computers.

McDuffee filed suit in a Montgomery County district court earlier this week claiming a violation of free speech after he could not access richardcarpenterwatch.blogspot.com, a blog criticizing Chancellor Richard Carpenter.

“The main thrust of this whole thing was to open the Web site,” he said. “There’s now no need for the lawsuit. By Monday it will be withdrawn.”

Steve Lestarjette, associate vice chancellor for external affairs, issued a statement Thursday saying, “The college has unblocked the site from the college’s server. It was never the intent to deny anyone’s First Amendment rights.”

No comment regarding the merits of Carpenter’s or McDuffee’s arguments one way or the other.  I’m just pleased that information about an administrator in one job in one state followed him to the next one.  This seems like it should be part of the due diligence that both sides should take for granted during administrative hires.

I’ve also wondered whether administrative support for Web CT, as opposed to blogs etc., had to do with their desire to centralize and control the technology the way attempted here.  Blogs are so inexpensive that even faculty can afford to set them up and put them to good use, as the folks did at Alfred University when they tossed out their president.

There might be a downside to these developments, but I’m not seeing it.  Blogging seems to have a lot of promise when it comes to restoring some transparency, if not democracy,  to higher education, especially when we see stories like this, or this.  Those are some deals I’d like to shed some light on.

DM