Navid Yeasin, a would-be senior, was expelled from the University halfway through the semester last November. In a hearing scheduled for Nov. 17 at the Douglas County District Court House, Judge Robert Fairchild will determine, or state whether more time is needed to determine, Yeasin’s enrollment status for spring 2015.
Yeasin attempted to enroll in classes this fall for spring 2015 twice but was denied, leading to the hearing, Terry Leibold, Yeasin’s lawyer, said.
A “bad breakup” that started in the summer of 2013 led to a no-contact order, Twitter problems and ultimately, the expulsion of Yeasin.
No-contact order begins
In Johnson County during the summer of 2013, an argument occurred between Yeasin and his now ex-girlfriend after he saw messages from another man on her phone. The two drove around arguing and she asked Yeasin to let her out, but he refused. He also refused to return her phone.
She complained to the Johnson County police. Court records show Yeasin was charged with criminal restraint, battery and criminal deprivation of property. To resolve this incident, Yeasin voluntarily entered a no-contact order, meaning he could not contact his ex-girlfriend.
“The Judge who entered the order ruled that it was entered by consent with no findings of abuse,” Leibold said. “In order to comply with the no-contact order, Navid removed the ex-girlfriend as a follower of his tweets. His Twitter account was private and could only be accessed by his followers.”
Upon arrival to the University in the fall of 2013, Yeasin’s ex-girlfriend notified the Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access of the summer incident. This led IOA to issue its own no-contact order, similar to the order given in Johnson County. Yeasin was, and is still, not allowed to have direct and indirect contact with his ex-girlfriend.
“IOA issued the no-contact letter because Yeasin had engaged in abusive and threatening behavior that made the victim afraid to be on campus, and he had continued to post negative tweets about her, which were causing her further distress and fear,” Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of KU News Service, said in an email.
Yeasin expressed anger and frustration by tweeting about the ex-girlfriend but did not send the tweets to her or use her name.
“In addition, the tweets were not threatening in any manner,” Leibold said. “The tweets made their way back to the ex-girlfriend who told the IOA about the tweets claiming the tweets were in violation of the no-contact order issued by the IOA…The tweets were no different than if Navid had complained to his friends about his ex-girlfriend and whatever he said ultimately reached the ex-girlfriend.”
IOA met with Yeasin on Sept. 6, 2013, and he was told “his tweets violated the non-contact and anti-retaliation directive,” Barcomb-Peterson said. IOA extended the no-contact order, saying he was prohibited from even talking about the ex-girlfriend, including indirect contact via tweets. Leibold and Yeasin said this is a violation of freedom of speech granted by the First Amendment.
“KU can’t order somebody to not talk about somebody else,” Leibold said. “It’s a content-based restriction and that’s a violation of the First Amendment rights.”
More tweets were made, again not naming the ex-girlfriend. There are a total of six tweets from Yeasin’s Twitter that IOA said violated the no-contact order, Leibold said.
The first hearing
Last November, there was a formal hearing with IOA to investigate the allegation of sexual discrimination and harassment, Leibold said. At this hearing, an additional tweet was presented even though the rules required that each side present any evidence they are going to use prior to the hearing.
A week after the hearing with IOA, Yeasin received a letter from the University expelling him.
“Vice Provost Durham found that Yeasin’s misconduct warranted expulsion because it violated: the University Sexual Harassment policy, the ‘No Contact’ directive and the IOA’s Sept. 6, 2013, clarifying letter,” Barcomb-Peterson said in an email.
Durham concluded Yeasin’s conduct was a threat of danger to his ex-girlfriend and interfered with her learning and equal opportunity to participate and benefit from the University — all things Title IX protects, Barcomb-Peterson said in an email.
The University expelled Yeasin under Article 19 of the Student Code of Conduct which reads, “While on University premises or at University sponsored or supervised events, or as required by city, state, or federal law, students and organizations are subject to disciplinary action for violations of published policies, rules and regulations of the University of Regents, and for the following offenses.”
The offenses mentioned include offenses against persons, property and orderly process of the University, along with offenses by an organization.
“Because his conduct [the tweets] occurred off-campus and because the IOA’s order violated his free speech rights, Navid filed an appeal with the University Judicial Board in December of 2013,” Leibold said.
The chairperson of the University Judicial Board dismissed Yeasin’s appeal in February 2014 without allowing it to be heard by the full Judicial Board. The chairperson stated Yeasin “failed to allege a proper ground for appeal,” Leibold said. This meant that Yeasin was still expelled from the University.
In March of this year, Yeasin filed a petition for judicial review of the University’s action with the Douglas County District Court.
On Sept. 26, Douglas County District Court Judge Fairchild agreed with Yeasin that the University didn’t have jurisdiction to discipline for off-campus conduct. Judge Fairchild ordered Yeasin’s expulsion be set aside and that he should be allowed to enroll for classes in the spring of 2015.
Yeasin attempted to enroll two times and was denied despite Judge Fairchild’s decision. The University filed a motion for Judge Fairchild to reconsider his decision. The University also ordered that Judge Fairchild’s decision would not be in effect until the post-judgment motions and any appeals have been decided. This decision to reconsider will be heard Nov. 17.
“I’ve already done so much for this University by being an RA and doing Relay for Life and being a summer [Conference Assistant] for them,” Yeasin said. “The fact that they just don’t care at all about my rights and the fact that I haven’t done anything wrong is really frustrating and it seems like no matter what we do, they really don’t care. It’s kind of discouraging.”
The post-judgments for the Nov. 17 hearing include Yeasin’s motion for “order for payment of transcripts and to reimburse his tuition and his motion for an order to hold KU in contempt for not allowing him to enroll,” Leibold said in an email.
The University’s motions are “for the judge to reconsider his decision and for a stay of the court’s judgment pending the motion for reconsideration and any possible appeal,” Leibold said in an email.
Yeasin is majoring in petroleum engineering and the University is the only school in Kansas with the major. He said he would like to put this matter behind him so he can return to class and graduate.
“I understand they [the University] are under pressure under Title IX to enforce their rules and I’m in support of that, but they have to do it between their own rules,” Yeasin said. “The rules are in place to make sure that the University is safe, but I have to question the people who are enforcing the rules on what they’re thinking.”
—Edited by Amelia Arvesen and Kelsey Phillips