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The Trump Administration is investigating Fordham University for punishing a Chinese-American student who posted a picture of himself armed in protest of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Austin Tong had shared the photo of himself—captioned “Don’t tread on me #198964," in reference to the date of the massacre—holding a Smith & Wesson rifle pointed toward the ground. American and Chinese flag emojis adorned the post.
Tong also published a picture of retired St. Louis police officer David Dorn who was killed after defending a friend’s store from looters. The student added a note, describing the “nonchalant social reaction” to Dorn’s murder.
Political statements accompanied such as “freedom comes from a strong and armed populace” and “Violence against any citizen should not be tolerated, and The Second Amendment protects us from that.”
Triggered university officials then placed Tong on probation.
Now the Trump’s Department of Education has launched an investigation into Fordham.
“Of course, this raises questions about the influence of the Chinese government on American colleges and universities," a department official told Campus Reform.
In a letter, the Department of Education cited the incident. On Jun. 4, per “multiple student complaints related to [Tong's] social media posts” and claims that his content was “grotesque” and “racist,” Fordham dispatched two uniformed public safety officers to Tong's parent’s home in Long Island, New York.
Tong allegedly told the officers that he had purchased the rifle to protect his family from the threat posed by ongoing riots and social disorder in New York City.
The university then deemed Tong’s constitutionally-protected speech “a security threat," the Department reported.
"Fordham apparently was concerned because 'in referring to Black Lives Matter protests, [Mr. Tong] stated that he was ‘aware of the chaotic situation that needs me to keep (sic) family safe,’” the letter continued.
On Jul. 24, the Dean of Students informed Tong that he was on probation because his social media posts violated university policy, forcing him to complete his courses online. The sanctions were also non-appealable.
He would need permission from the Dean's office to step foot on campus and he was mandated to undergo “bias training” and compose an apology, the Department recounted.
The university's actions prompted Tong to sue the school, asserting that his First Amendment rights were violated by school officials.
The Department of Education noted that Fordham promised in its Demonstration Policy to prospects that "[e]ach member of the University has a right to freely express their positions and to work for their acceptance whether they assent to or dissent from existing situations in the University or society."
Fordham further promises not to infringe on students’ right “to express [their] positions” and engage in “other legitimate activities,” the letter went on.
"However, Fordham fails to warn prospective students, their parents, and other potential consumers in the market for education certificates of their liability to potential discipline for the lawful off-campus expression of thoughts and constitutionally protected conduct that happens to be disfavored by Fordham’s education bureaucrats," the Department of Education wrote.