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MSU Frees Student from Spam Charges

A MSU (Michigan State University) student named Kara Spencer is freed of any charges made by the school. The school wrongly accused Spencer as a spammer because she distributed e-mail with a political message to the university's faculty.

Spencer sent an e-mail message to 391 faculty members to boost communication in connection with proposed changes to Welcome Week in September 2008. On December 10, 2008, the Student-Faculty Judiciary found Spencer guilty of distributing a spam mail and so officially issued her a warning following which Spencer appealed to the University Student Appeals Board on January 12, 2009.

The university said that Spencer had breached a policy regarding mass e-mail as it does not permit sending e-mails to over 30 people simultaneously. But Spencer argued that her right to free speech was violated due to the policy's selective enforcement. The university complained that Spencer refused to abide by the e-mail rules and hence, charges were formally put against her.

As the case got into process, Spencer enjoyed the civil liberty advocates' support. One of the advocates, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, urged MSU to withdraw the charges as well as change the policy.

Meanwhile, after an almost five-month tussle with the university's authorities, Spencer may eventually come back to normal life. In the 4th week of January 2009, the MSU Office of Judicial Affairs informed Spencer over electronic mail that the spam charges against her were withdrawn. Spencer also came to know that the university would examine its mass e-mail policy as well as probably modify it.

The student said that first she thought the policy would be changed regarding her case only. But when she examined the policy more closely she found that it was basically flawed, as reported by statenews on January 29, 2009.

Spencer further claimed that the message she sent was not spam. It was related to a significant conversation regarding university issues that concerned all, As reported by 7th Space on January 28, 2009. Spencer also added that she was glad that MSU had ultimately recognized her right to free expression.

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