Amid nationwide coverage Wednesday of its decision to suspend a student for tweeting his ex-girlfriend's apology letter — which the student brutally critiqued with a red pen and graded a D-minus — the University of Central Florida had a sudden change of heart the very same day, throwing out Nick Lutz's two-semester suspension.
“I was really surprised and thankful for UCF taking the immediate action that they did,” Jacob Stuart, Lutz's attorney, told Inside Higher Ed. “It’s unfortunate that a lawyer was needed … that should still be concerning.”
UCF officials declined to comment, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the outlet said.
But Lutz tweeted the letter from UCF reversing his suspension over violating the “disruptive conduct” and “harmful behavior” clauses of the student conduct code. The reversal letter indicates that Lutz's ex-girlfriend indeed experienced emotional distress, but officials couldn't conclude that her distress was a direct result of his tweet as opposed to the reaction it received.
However, a punishment could still come later.
“Specifically, the charges brought forward in this case were not supported by the original documentation received,” Adrienne Otto Frame, UCF associate vice president and dean of students, wrote. “I hereby remand the case to the Office of Student Conduct for a new hearing with new charges, if appropriate charges are identified.”
After a very long process, I am pleased to announce that I have won my appeal! All charges against me have been rev… https://t.co/UCIg7hlp39— Nick Lutz (@Nick Lutz)1500498595.0
Stuart told Inside Higher Ed that he's confident the ruling would stand: “We’re not out of the woods yet, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction."
Lutz' original post in February featuring his ex's marked-up apology letter garnered over 121,000 retweets and was liked nearly 340,000 times as of Thursday afternoon.
When your ex writes you an apology letter so you grade it to send it back https://t.co/MczdjcCiil— Nick Lutz (@Nick Lutz)1487354747.0
He never mentioned his ex-girlfriend’s name when the letter became a phenomenon, the Miami Herald said. But the meager cross-out of her name on the letter’s last page may not have been enough.
His ex felt cyberbullied, Stuart told the paper, adding that she went to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. And while nothing came of that visit, Stuart told the Herald that she then turned her attention to the University of Central Florida, filing a grievance despite the fact that she’s not a student there. Then came Lutz's suspension.
(H/T: Heat Street)