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Professor seeks to shut down site offering faculty critiques

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  1. Prior Restraint

    NMU         CALIFORNIA         Prior Restraints         May 11, 2000    

Professor seeks to shut down site offering faculty critiques

  • A professor with the City College of San Francisco has sued a web site and his university in an attempt to stop criticism of him by anonymous students.

A San Francisco college professor has sued an Internet site and his university over student comments posted on the web site about the professor’s teaching ability and sexual orientation.

City College of San Francisco English professor Daniel Curzon Brown’s lawsuit against City College and will move forward in late May in San Francisco Superior Court, according to a story in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Curzon Brown, whom the newspaper describes as openly gay, complains in his lawsuit that he is entitled to compensation for the attacks that appear on the web site and that it should be shut down. He sued City College on the grounds that can be accessed from the school’s own web page.

“We have to change the idea that the Internet is holy and that it does not have to abide by the normal laws of civilization,” Curzon Brown told the Chronicle.

The three-year-old web site was started by Ryan Lathouwers, a former computer science student who told the Chronicle that he wanted to found a forum for students to find classes best suited for them. “I’m just a conduit for student opinion,” he told the newspaper. “People have a right to express their opinions. The opinions are not always positive.”

The college has previously stated that it would not shut down the web site even though it was set up through a college page because it feared that such an action would be considered unconstitutional. The paper states that the school’s chancellor is working with Lathouwers on a system to ensure that students who post comments about professors have actually taken their classes.

According to the Chronicle, anonymous posts on the web site have called Curzon Brown a “homomanic,” “racist” and “mentally ill.”

© 2000 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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