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HBCU Student Not Allowed to Graduate Because of Facebook Post

by on April 30, 2011

HBCU student sidelined from graduation for Facebook post

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, YourBlackWorld.comScholarship in Action 

Roman Caple is a senior at St. Augustine’s College.  He was set to graduate this weekend until he was informed by the school that he wouldn’t be allowed to walk with his classmates.  Caple says that his punishment was due to a Facebook post that allegedly "jeopardized the integrity of the college."

Caple argues that the reaction of school administrators came as a result of his posts following a tornado that hit Raleigh, NC two weeks ago.  But he says that most of his comments were meant to be uplifting.  One of his posts said the following:

"We all need to set our differences aside and help one another. Falcons we will continue to fly high because that’s what we do. Help your neighbor, if need be, Falcons are one."

According to what Caple said to ABC11,  "Here’s the post that I believe they are referring to as to being putting this college in a negative light. It says ‘St. Augs is holding classes tomorrow and students in Falcrest still don’t have power. Like, wtf. Really? #dumb.’"

Caple is an active student who is a member of the school band and choir.  He also played tennis for St. Augustine for the past three years.  He’s even had the school’s logo shaved into his head, which is a surprising act of school spirit. 

"I feel like it’s a personal issue that they have with me because as I said, if they’re basing it on my Facebook post, as you saw, there was nothing on there that was negative," he said. "In my opinion. In their opinion, it might be different, but they haven’t proven to me in anything in writing or anything that that’s the case."

Here’s what the school said in its statement about the incident: "As written in our Code of Conduct, Saint Augustine’s College students are expected to support the College’s mission. The College reserves the right to take appropriate actions when student conduct conflicts with the institutional mission."

Well, as a person who doesn’t attend St. Augustine College, let me officially say, on my own Facebook page that “Not letting a loyal student walk in graduation because he used his freedom of speech is one of the dumbest things I’ve heard this month.”

I am not sure if administrators at this alleged institution of higher learning somehow feel that stealing the freedoms of their students empowers the institution or helps its reputation.  I personally would not allow my daughter or God kids to attend such a university.  Mr. Caple’s academic standing has nothing to do with what he says about the school on his Facebook page, and the university should be embarrassed for attempting to assassinate a student’s freedom of thought in broad daylight.

There is nothing scholarly about punishing and suppressing free speech.  All alumni of St. Augustine and concerned citizens should let this university know that this kind of unintelligent behavior is unacceptable.  Even among HBCUs, which have a long list of backward administrative decisions, this is clearly one of the worst.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. 


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  1. rubylaughs permalink

    Wow, how sad for this young man. When we continually base our actions on the simple words of others, instead basing our actions on the actions of others,we are going to find ourselves very touchy , very weak, very meek and constantly getting upset about a whole lot of nothing. So what this man expressed what he was feeling at the time on facebook. Seems to me, if this college was so worried about how they are being seen by others they would be more worried about their own actions towards this young man that is getting more recognition about the negative because of themselves. Seems to me, it may be a ploy to push black folks out and white folks in. What do you think?

  2. Rashida Govan permalink

    While I understand your perspectives on St. Aug’s decision regarding this young man, I do not appreciate your sweeping indictment of HBCUs. “Even among HBCUs, which have a long list of backward administrative decisions, this is clearly one of the worst.”

    This comment added nothing to your commentary and in fact takes away from your analysis. I believe this decision is more reflective of the conservatism of HBCUs often a response to the manner in which decisions and actions on the part of HBCUs is scrutinized and judged. Your remark is a prime example of why our institutions’ often react in ways that can be considered extreme. St. Aug’s did it, not HBCUs.

    Their decision to hold classes was surely controversial and probably invited major criticism that was associated with judgements of the institutions’ decision-making capacity. While I don’t agree with their decision to disallow this young man to participate in graduation, given the details you have provided, I am more bothered by your remarks. Perhaps this is due to my unending support of HBCUs.

    While I can say, St. Aug may have gotten it wrong this time, I will not associate their decision with the decisions of other HBCUs.

    • I have had the occassion to be exposed to many HBCU’s and find them often lacking in administration and leadership. Their administrative construct is at best archaic at most locations. In defense of some faculty at some HBCU’s, I have met many professors of unparalelled noble character yet found their reverence for the institution of HBCU’s disturbing. These scholars have a great deal to offer yet they continue to waste their talents and gifts at some fading institution hanging on to ineffective tradition as opposed to seeking and implementing innovative methodologies to progress and the ideal of higher education.

      It took me two semesters at Shaw University to realize I was wasting my time and money there. I re-visited Shaw years later only to find that absolutely NOTHING had changed. They even had the same dean of students, doing and saying the same things that motivated me to leave. The facility is still crumbling and decaying, NOT for a lack of funding, but because of lack of management. I have since achieved two terminal degrees at other institutions. Although HBCU’s had and served their purpose, it is time to move forward.

      I understand, and I applaude your sense of loyalty. However, I personally would never send my grandchild or suggest ANY student to attend an HBCU.

      • Rashida Govan permalink

        I work in higher education and have seen poor administrative decisions made at all types of institutions including some of the most competitive institutions in the country. My children WILL attend HBCUs and so will the children I work with in my community. I expect they will go on to do great things including earning terminal degrees, because they have seen many graduates of HBCUs go on to earn these credentials (including me). It is amazing to me how we critique our institutions when PWIs make decisions that could be interpreted as nothing short of racist. Yet we entrust them to educate our children. DEEP.

  3. raingirl2 permalink

    what do you expect? a leopard may have been skinned and you cannot see it’s spots but he is still a leopard. This young man is bigger that the entire institution and should hold his head high and press on. No one can take what he has learned. As far the racist administration they clearly failed the mission and the students. The example set by them clearly demonstrate some deranged, angry, hateful destructive leaders in this school. Any coverage that comes out of this hateful act is and will place this institution on the list of schools to avoid. Perhaps they should be fired because clearly they did just what this young man is falsely accused of doing. This is typical of racist thinking.

  4. Kathy permalink

    I would call the media and spread the school name all over the news so everyone would know their status.

  5. helen watts permalink

    Let him march, we have enough of our black students doing the wrong thing. I see no problem with his comments, he was being positive. Let’s stop being petty! C’mom HBCU.

  6. helen watts permalink


  7. Dr. J.M. Cornick permalink

    This is hard to believe that this institution would do this to a student. If this is what happened-this is a form of the Institutional Academic Big Bully-the same as the playground bully! Oh how sad!

  8. Irene permalink

    THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!!!! His post has nothing to do with his graduation. I bet the college is not going to refund his tuition money back. The board need a reality check. They are considered “out of order” in the unfair treatment of this student.

  9. Rose permalink

    The young man should be allowed to march. what is wrong with people, especially so called administrators. He just stated his opinion about the student not having power.

  10. What did he say that got them so riled up?

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