AP Government and Politics
7, September 2014
Expulsion Brown University is a private Rhode Island college known for academics as well as sports. Just as the rest of the universities and higher learning institutions in the United States, it has its own code and mission statement. Brown strives to ensure that students have the best, as well as the safest learning atmosphere possible and has the same goal as any other university; to send its new graduates into the world with acceptance of all fellow citizens regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background. As stated by columnist and writer, Nat Hentoff in “Should This Student Have Been Expelled”, “One mission of a university is to send into the world graduates who are tolerant of any races, faiths, and cultures. Another mission is to teach the value of free expression and tolerance even for hateful ideas.” (Hentoff 439).
Colleges, including Brown, want students not only receive an education, but receive and give respect. The university prohibits harassment or threats based on a fellow student’s sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or race, and the most common punishment for violation of these rules is expulsion. Students are required to sign off, and agree to abide by rules established by the college, as previously stated, “Offense III [of the Brown Code] – which deals with harassment – prohibits inappropriate, abusive, threatening, or demanding actions based on race, religion, gender, handicap, ethnicity, national origin, or sexual orientation” (Hentoff 437), and in doing so are forced to give up their rights to a certain degree in order to receive an education. Offense III explicitly states that the university does not prohibit speech in its code of conduct, but it does prohibit actions one may perceive to be hurtful or otherwise threatening. Doug Hann was a previous member of the Brown football team. However his life changed dramatically during his junior year at the university. On October 18, 1990, while celebrating his twenty-first birthday, Hann consumed a considerable amount of alcohol. As a result controversial speech left his drunken mouth. It was reported that he had used hateful words regarding African Americans, directing his words toward a freshman student. “At one point, Hann had shouted into the air, ‘Fuck you niggers!’ It was aimed at no one in particular, but apparently all black students at Brown, or in the world. A freshman leaned out a dormitory window and asked him to stop being so loud and offensive. Hann according to reporters on the Brown Daily Herald, looked up and yelled, “What are you, a faggot?’ Hann then noticed an Israeli flag in the dorm. ‘What are you, a Jew?’ he shouted. ‘Fucking Jew!’” (Hentoff 435). During this time Hann had been verbalizing racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic insults. At one point that night, Hann attempted to engage in a physical confrontation with a group of students who had been following him, but was restrained by friends and no one was physically injured.. Although his behavior was blatantly unacceptable, Hann did refrain from harmful actions, and though his words were offensive, were only words used randomly and not aimed at a specific person. One would assume based on the code of conduct, despite the former Brown student athlete’s pitfall, that he would be punished within reason for his actions, but this was not the case. Hann was expelled, never to return to Brown again. This was not however the first time that Doug Hann had performed such pitiful actions. About two years earlier, he had gotten drunk, and this also resulted in racial comments. At a fraternity bar, Hann had called a student a “nigger.” (Hentoff 435). After the incident, Hann was forced to go to counseling for alcohol abuse and was also ordered to attend a race relations workshop. Since this was the second time this had happened, Hann could not walk away from this unpunished, because it was a second offense,