A U.S. District Court judge in California ruled earlier this month that it was unconstitutional for California State University to punish students based on a clause in its code of conduct requiring that students be “civil” to one another. The rule had been used in one instance to justify discipline for members of the College Republicans who stamped on flags displaying Allah’s name during a protest against extremist Islamic terrorist groups.

The Cal State system has argued that the decisions against students were also based on allegations of hate speech or intimidation, which are not defended by the First Amendment.

A similar code at the University of Michigan was struck down in a 1989 case.

UNINTELLIGENT DESIGN?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has sued architect Frank Gehry for negligence in designing the Stata Center, a $300 million academic building located at the college in Cambridge, Mass. According to the suit, numerous cracks and leaks have appeared in the building since it opened in 2004. On top of that, mold has begun to grow beyond control. The college has already spent $1.5 million repairing one set of flaws in the building, The Boston Globe reported.

Gehry, known for his unconventional architecture, has designed structures like the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Pritzker Pavilion at Chicago’s Millennium Park.

CONCERT CALAMITY

The rock band My Chemical Romance agreed to pay the student government at the University of Maine about $20,500 after the band cancelled an appearance at the college’s campus in Orono, Maine last month. The band claimed to have cancelled its concert because its drummer was ill, but it went on to play a concert the next night, raising objections and threats of a lawsuit from the student government.

Thousands of dollars in student funds were already spent on advertising and support. According to the contract, the band was responsible for paying those costs if it cancelled the gig – unless there was an “act of god,” The Maine Campus reported.

PAGAN HOLIDAYS

Marshall University, a college in Huntington, W.Va., recently became the first college in the country to grant pagan students excused absences for celebrating pagan holidays.

About one fifth of 1 percent of Americans consider themselves pagan – slightly less than consider themselves Hindu or Unitarian.

While many colleges have policies allowing students to miss any class for religious reasons, no other school has recognized paganism by specifically granting students permission to miss class for pagan holidays, The Associated Press reported.

GABE NELSON

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