New York Supreme Court dismisses Chinese-American student’s case against Fordham over social media posts

The New York Supreme Court officially ruled in the appeals case of Austin Tong, dismissing his case against Fordham University.

In June, Tong was placed on disciplinary probation by Fordham for his controversial Instagram posts, including one displaying himself with a large firearm with the caption "Don’t tread on me."

The New York Supreme Court formally dismissed Fordham University student Austin Tong’s appeal to overturn Fordham University’s decision to place him on disciplinary probation in early October. Tong was banned from campus for his Instagram posts related to 2nd Amendment rights, the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in China, and the death of retired Black police officer David Dorn in St. Louis, as reported by Campus Reform.

Representing the court, Justice Carol Edmead wrote that “the court finds that said sanctions were neither ‘disproportionate to Tong’s offense’ nor so excessive as to be ‘shocking to one's sense of fairness.’ As a result, the court concludes that Tong has failed to demonstrate that Fordham’s disciplinary decision was an ‘arbitrary and capricious’ ruling.”


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“Tong’s observation that the phrase ‘don’t tread on me’ can be used in non-racist contexts is unpersuasive,” wrote Edmead in the twenty-page case summary.

In regards to Tong's post about Dorn, Edmead also wrote that “the court finds that the timing, content, and context of Tong’s Instagram posts justify the two foregoing inferences that Dean Eldredge drew about Tong’s intent to harass and threaten his fellow students via his Instagram posts because of their opposing views regarding the BLM movement.”

Reacting to the decision, Tong told Campus Reform, “This absurd court decision shows how important Justice Amy Barrett is to the currently politicized and biased legal system.”He also told Campus Reform that he is planning to appeal the decision. 

“Despite the turbulence in this legal journey, my lawyers and I and our great supporters are fully confident of the principles we’re fighting for and that justice will eventually prevail.” Tong said, “As we appeal this decision, we are looking at any legal methods we can use to win. I’m not sure where this will eventually conclude, but I won’t be surprised if that’s the U.S. Supreme Court.”

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Fordham University did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Campus Reform in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Margaret_Beste