Hearing to address controversial photocopy

By Matt Gilbert

Is it harassment to hang a picture of a university official on your door? What if the picture has some embarrassing writing on it?

These are questions the university Judicial Office will attempt to answer at the hearing of Neptune Hall nudist Tom Ryan Friday at 2 p.m.

Ryan is charged with two counts, one at the university level and one at the state level. Ryan was arrested for disorderly conduct after allegedly sitting naked in a stack of inner tubes last Thursday night in a West Neptune Hall floor lounge. He will be arraigned in DeKalb Nov. 19.

The other case involves a photocopy of a picture of Neptune/Gilbert Hall Area Coordinator Margaret Phillips that originally ran as part of an advertisement in The Northern Star.

Ryan placed the photocopy of the picture on his door with the words “To Tom with love—Margaret” penned in red ink.

Ryan was called to Hall Adjudicator Christopher Waugh’s office. At the meeting, Ryan said, he was told in order to post items on his door, a stamp from both the University Programming and Activities (UP&A) office and Neptune Hall is required.

Waugh refused to comment on the meeting, but the official complaint he eventually filed against Ryan referred to the meeting.

Waugh wrote in the complaint, “We talked about related issues, like harassment and unauthorized posting on University property.”

After the meeting, several friends of Ryan placed photocopies of Phillips’ picture on their doors as a show of support. Some had things written on them, others did not.

A few weeks later almost everyone who had Phillips’ picture on their door received a controversial letter telling them the picture on their doors constituted a violation of the Judicial Code.

The letter contained some significant misquotations of the code. Ryan did not receive a letter.

Two days later a complaint was filed in the Judicial Office against Ryan. The complaint charged Ryan with harassment and failure to follow the oral or written instructions of a university official.

According to University Judicial Office Director Larry Bolles, “The posting of the picture of Margaret Phillips is not a violation.”

It is the writing on the picture that is at issue in the case, Bolles said, adding the writing might amount to libel and slander.

University Legal Counsel George Shur refused to render any kind of judgement on the matter.

“There’s an inherent right to privacy in one’s own likeness,” he said. “At the same time that right of privacy must be balanced by fair use and comment.”