A New York college student who was threatened with expulsion over two social media posts has sued the school and his lawyer is now alleging it may have tried to hide ties to the Chinese Communist Party, according to legal documents.
Fordham University threatened to expel Austin Tong, a Chinese-born senior, for two social media posts from June. In a written response to Fordham’s motion to dismiss his suit, Tong’s lawyer, Edward Paltzik, alleged that Fordham has ties to the Chinese Communist Party, and that university officials have been “extraordinarily dishonest” in disclosing their dealings with the foreign nation.
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During an appearance on “The Ingraham Angle,” Tong said he believed the university took issue “with anything they disagree with and they want to silence any voice they don’t like and that’s really what happened and they silenced me because they don’t like what I said.”
One of Tong’s posts featured a photo of a former St. Louis police captain who was killed in a June riot, with the comment, “Y’all a bunch of hypocrites.” A second post depicted Mr. Tong holding an unloaded rifle and the phrase “Don’t tread on me” – a reference to the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The second post is the one that ultimately led to the university’s threat to expel him. Fordham’s letter to Tong on June 8 informed him that he was guilty of violating university policies on “bias and/or hate crimes” and “threats/intimidation.”
Fordham requested an apology for the posts, but Tong responded with the lawsuit.
Paltzik’s argument regarding alleged ties to China’s Communist Party appears to be based on a letter from the Department of Education that informed Fordham it was seeking information on a possible discrepancy in foreign funding disclosure.
“It is the Department’s experience that Fordham’s extensive international operations are very likely concurrent with substantial foreign source gifts and/or contracts, despite the dearth of disclosures by Fordham,” the letter read.
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“As a result, the Department is concerned that Fordham’s reporting may not fully capture all qualifying gifts, contracts, and/or restricted and conditional gifts or contracts from or with all foreign sources.”
Despite attempts to dismiss the suit, Fordham has found itself facing federal investigations for allegedly accepting undisclosed foreign gifts from China as well as for violating its own free-speech guidelines in contravention of federal law.
Fordham’s mission statement claims, “Fordham strives for excellence in research and teaching and guarantees the freedom of inquiry required by rigorous thinking and the quest for truth.”
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A court filing argues that Fordham Department of Public Safety agents visited Tong at his family’s home on Long Island and interviewed him, with one agent saying that the posts were “not threatening to me.”