A University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) student has filed a lawsuit against the school alleging she was expelled for sexually suggestive social media posts.
Kimberley Diei said the university violated her right to free speech by expelling her from their pharmacy program for her comments on Twitter and Instagram. Backed by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Diei filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the university.
After FIRE’s attorneys intervened, the university committee decided to reinstate Diei into the program, just three weeks after expelling her.
‘UT Spied on My Social Media Activity’
In September 2019, soon after classes started, UTHSC started receiving anonymous complaints about Diei’s Instagram and Twitter profiles.
In August 2020, the school expelled her for some of her “crude” and “sexual” social media posts, including her comments on a trending discussion on Twitter about the song “WAP” by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion.
“UT spied on my social media activity — activity that has no bearing on my success as a pharmacist or my education. I can be a successful and professional pharmacist as well as a strong woman that embraces her sexuality. The two are not mutually exclusive,” she said.
According to FIRE, the Professional Conduct Committee did not inform Diei which of the university’s policies she violated nor the posts which were called into question.
“Kim is an authentic and successful woman, and FIRE believes that it is important to show the public that students like Kim are capable of being successful professionals while also being free to personally express themselves on social media,” FIRE attorney Greg H. Greubel said.