Student disciplined for dissing dissected cadavers

The University of Minnesota did not infringe on the free speech rights of a mortuary science student who posted irreverent comments about cadavers on her Facebook page, the Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled.

In 2009, Amanda Tatro wrote on Facebook that she had stolen a lock of hair from a cadaver and wanted to take an instrument used in the class to stab “a certain someone in the throat.” Her comments included  "Amanda Beth Tatro gets to play, I mean dissect, Bernie," and "Who knew [the] embalming lab was so cathartic!" A fellow student reported her. Subsequently the University failed Ms Tatro, asked for a psychiatric evaluation and told her to enrol in an ethics course. She was placed on academic probation for the rest of her enrolment.

Although Ms Tatro is no longer a student, she sued as a matter of principle, arguing that her free speech rights had been infringed. But the court said that a university could discipline disruptive and threatening students. It also said that she had clearly broken an agreement to treat the donated bodies “with respect and dignity”.  Ms Tatro’s lawyer says that she will appeal to the state Supreme Court. ~ Thomson Reuters, Jul 12; Minnesota Daily, July 13


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