Stockton Student Faces Discipline Over Use of Trump Image on Zoom
GALLOWAY — A Stockton University student is facing disciplinary action over his use of an image of President Donald Trump.
Robert Dailyda used a photo of President Donald Trump as his Zoom background on July 1 during a virtual class as part of the doctoral program in Stockton's organizational leadership program.
The image used during the Zoom meeting is of Trump holding a document with Dailyda's face, according to a copy of the image provided to New Jersey 101.5 by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which is challenging the action on Dailyda's behalf.
"According to the administration, a couple students felt that his Facebook post and choice of background was offensive, threatening and concerning and the students felt offended, disrespected and taunted," Foundation for Individual Rights in Education spokesman Zach Greenburg told New Jersey 101.5.
In a Facebook post, Dailyda said that he was "done with the leftist agenda of BLM and the white self haters."
"I have seen it in action in my doctoral classes at Stockton and the general media," his post said. "I'm not backing down. If we can't get past this, ok, I'm ready to fight to the death for our country and against those that want to take it down.I believe there are also many like me."
Greenburg said that the students who complained "found his language in the Facebook post angry, potentially violent, racist and intolerant."
The student faces a possible suspension and fine along with sensitivity training, which Greenburg said has the potential to derail his academic career as a doctorial student.
"Our analysis based on prevailing First Amendment principles, the expression that he put forth in the Facebook post as well as the Zoom background are quintessential protected speech under the First Amendment," Greenburg said. "It's political speech and merits the highest level of constitutional protection and the university is bound by the First Amendment and has no power or no right to punish him."
Stockton spokeswoman Diane D’Amico confirmed that Dailyda is a graduate student but said that no disciplinary action has been taken. She said the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prohibited her from discussing the case further.