Photo by Daniel Gabriel.
UCF fired Charles Negy on Friday, and Knight News learned more about the former psychology professor’s reasons for a lawsuit he threatened against the university if his resignation was successful.
Although UCF said Negy’s dismissal had nothing to do with his tweets, Negy could still file a strong lawsuit against First Amendment – and get away with “heaps of money” – said Adam Goldstein, an attorney for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. the First Amendment criticized UCF’s investigation into Negy.
Goldstein explained in an interview with Knight News on Friday how government officials sometimes take unconstitutional measures because they know the courts will knock them down in order to appease voters who are calling for such measures.
“In some ways, they might actually prefer to lose in court,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein does not represent Negy – attorney Samantha Harris has publicly argued that UCF’s far-reaching investigation itself violates the first amendment as it was only initiated based on Negy’s tweets.
Harris told Inside Higher Ed that UCF’s investigation was predetermined from the start.
“When Prof. Negy’s views became politically uncomfortable for them, they started looking for reasons to fire him,” Harris said. “It was ‘show me the man and I’ll show you the crime’ … UCF, along with those who filed and investigated false complaints against him, violated his rights and defamed him and is being held accountable in court.”
After months of investigation, Negy was presented with a notice of termination for the first time on January 13th.
UCF spokesman Chad Binette said the investigation began after a number of complaints the university received – mainly from current and former students about Negy’s behavior in the classroom – and the investigation process was comprehensive and unbiased.
According to Binette, the UCF Institutional Justice Bureau spoke to more than 300 people, reviewing hundreds of documents and hours of audio. None of the results related to Negy’s Twitter posts.
Binette said Negy gave his written response to the university’s notice of resignation on Jan. 19, but after reviewing his response and all of the facts in the report, UCF concluded that resignation was the appropriate action.
Goldstein said it was not inconceivable that UCF would just “be ready to burn that pile of money” to come back to these students and say, “We fought so hard, we tried everything we could, but damn it times – damn it First amendment! ‘”
Goldstein said that this thinking was not unfounded if the goal of the university was to “appease the mob,” and if the university stood on principle and did not fire Negy, the people who advocated the dismissal of Negy would, move their destination UCF. He said he think they would want this administration out, and hashtags like #FireCartwright could emerge.
Goldstein said that if Negy investigates legal action, the university could end up paying a significant amount of money through trial alone in court.
“President Cartwright is not in an enviable position,” said Goldstein. “If there’s a decision and you have to appeal that decision, your legal fees would only be over half a million dollars, and that’s not even the verdict you would have to pay if you lost.”
Goldstein explained the economic damage UCF could suffer if it lost a potential lawsuit with Negy: to pay out “a whole lot of money” that could have been spent on scholarships, student activities, and dormitory repairs.
This would become “a self-destructive thing, especially when paid with government money,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein said that he believes that given the precedents it could set, it is not wise to go down this path for the university.
“It would be more effective not to give someone a bunch of money if you don’t like them,” said Goldstein. “If this layoff goes through and is on trial, this will not be the last time UCF will fire a professor, and the next time they fire a professor, it will be the one who speaks out for something you might like Be a Pro-Black Lives Matter Professor. And why? Because someone complained. “
UCF said in an email to Knight News the university supports the First Amendment right of all campus community members to freely express their views, including those who some find uncomfortable. However, Goldstein said this may undermine free speech.
“Freedom presupposes the right to anger people,” said Goldstein. “Freedom implies the right to do abusive things, and some people are terrible. To say we believe in free speech, but not that free speech undermines the whole concept. “
Click on the next page to view the records received from Knight News and previous coverage on the subject.