Student May Be Suspended For Informational “Spam”

10 Dec
December 10, 2008

This blog is filled with stories about emails that were vulgar, offensive, abusive, incriminating or against state laws.  But Michigan State University student Kara Spencer may get suspended for sending an email that is none of these.  As a matter of fact, reports say it was an informational email about a campus issue.  (Lansing State Journal)

What was her offense?  What brings her to a disciplinary hearing today in front of MSU's Student-Faculty Judiciary?

Spencer sent an email to 391 professors against university regulations on the use of its computer network. Those regulations prohibit individuals from sending unsolicited bulk emails (spam) for personal reasons.  What makes it spam?  Not content.  Spam is defined as bulk email sent to 20 to 30 recipients over two days.

"It is our belief that such a policy does not impose unlawful restrictions on free speech," says University President Lou Anna Simon.  The policy is "a set of procedural requirements that apply to all bulk use of the e-mail system, as opposed to a policy that makes distinctions based on the content of particular e-mails."

(UPDATE:  Spencer said Wednesday that she has received an official warning from MSU, according to the Detroit Free Press.)

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