Breaking: Jury Finds Former College President Personally Liable in Victory for Student Rights


The decision that I told you about Wednesday was just handed down and it’s an important victory for student rights. From the FIRE website

ATLANTA, February 1, 2013—A federal jury today found former Valdosta State University (VSU) President Ronald M. Zaccari personally liable for $50,000 for violating the due process rights of former student Hayden Barnes in the case of Barnes v. Zaccari. In May 2007, Zaccari expelled Barnes for peacefully protesting Zaccari’s plan to construct two parking garages on campus, calling a collage posted by Barnes on his personal Facebook page a “threatening document” and labeling Barnes a “clear and present danger” to VSU. Barnes first came to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help in October 2007.

And that is before the attorneys fees for the five-year-legal odyssey have been assessed. I will be writing more about the special significance of this case in the next few days. 

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Members have made 16 comments.

  1. Profile photo of Jack Dunphy Contributor

    Congratulations on the win. May many more follow.

    • #1
    • February 2, 2013 at 1:57 am
  2. Profile photo of profdlp Coolidge

    This is the only time I recall a University President being held personally liable for anything.

    Fine work!

    • #2
    • February 2, 2013 at 1:57 am
  3. Profile photo of Greg Lukianoff Contributor
    Greg Lukianoff Post author

    Thank you. Piercing “qualified immunity” is crucial to the fight against speech codes as well.

    • #3
    • February 2, 2013 at 1:58 am
  4. Profile photo of Barkha Herman Member

    Congratulations to your efforts, Greg!

    Thanks for being there for these kids.

    • #4
    • February 2, 2013 at 2:09 am
  5. Profile photo of Illiniguy Member

    Breaking down speech codes, one judgment at a time. Well done.

    • #5
    • February 2, 2013 at 2:20 am
  6. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher

    Awesome – Looking forward to seeing Zaccari’s name plastered all over my news feeds.

    • #6
    • February 2, 2013 at 2:22 am
  7. Profile photo of Valiuth Member

    Take them down a peg!

    • #7
    • February 2, 2013 at 2:31 am
  8. Profile photo of Peter Robinson Founder

    I’m with Jack, Greg: You and your colleagues at FIRE deserve our congratulations–and gratitude. Sticking with a case for five years? That took resources–and guts. Well done.

    • #8
    • February 2, 2013 at 2:36 am
  9. Profile photo of David Foster Member

    Excellent news, good work!

    And also…if this university administrator exceeded his delegated authority so blatantly that he was effectively acting as an individual, rather than as an officer of an institution….which is what this court decision would seem to imply…doesn’t that suggest that the money spent by the State of Georgia in defending this case should be treated as taxable compensation to Zaccari?

    • #9
    • February 2, 2013 at 3:28 am
  10. Profile photo of Leslie Watkins Member

    Terrific news! Way to go Greg and FIRE!

    • #10
    • February 2, 2013 at 3:29 am
  11. Profile photo of Paul Stinchfield Member

    “Personally liable” is wonderful news.

    • #11
    • February 2, 2013 at 4:18 am
  12. Profile photo of Brasidas Inactive

    Great win, Greg. Congratulations and more power to you. Please keep us posted here at Ricochet on the final tally including legal fees and on the next big cases in your sites.

    • #12
    • February 2, 2013 at 4:24 am
  13. Profile photo of Greg Lukianoff Contributor
    Greg Lukianoff Post author
    Brasidas: Great win, Greg. Congratulations and more power to you. Please keep us posted here at Ricochet on the final tally including legal fees and on the next big cases in your sites. · 1 hour ago

    Will do!

    • #13
    • February 2, 2013 at 5:58 am
  14. Profile photo of Fricosis Guy Coolidge

    Administrators everywhere just had to change their shorts.

    • #14
    • February 2, 2013 at 8:42 am
  15. Profile photo of Mickerbob Member

    From my wife and I, this just warms our hearts! Thank you Greg for your wonderful organization!

    • #15
    • February 2, 2013 at 9:39 am
  16. Profile photo of Devereaux Inactive

    I am thrilled to hear this. 

    But I can’t help but wonder where the money will come from. The asshat lost and will have to come up with 50 Large, but what of the attorney fees. ?Does he have those kinds of resources.

    Because I would love to see him stripped of all. This kind of arrogance deserves serious penalty. Take his home, his cars, his jewelry, his retirement cash, his investments – everything you can find. You may not be able to send him to jail, but hopefully you will make it so he wishes he were going to jail.

    • #16
    • February 2, 2013 at 9:41 am