Social media post spark student’s lawsuit against UTHSC

Social media lawsuit

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A lawsuit was filed Wednesday by a student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.

She said her actions online should have nothing to do with the work she does on campus.

For 27-year-old Kimberly Diei there was no doubt that she would become a VOL to pursue a doctorate in pharmacy.

“It’s honestly the only school I applied to,” she said.

It wasn’t the coursework that was giving her trouble but her active social media presence.

“Very much so. I find it to be a safe space for myself to speak about my viewpoints,” she said.

Two anonymous complaints, a year apart, were turned into the University’s Professional Conduct Committee over tweets where Diei added racy lyrics to the Cardi B and Meghan Thee Stallion song ‘WAP”and “Spent all this time getting my hair done just for your man to *blank* it up.”

The first complaint ended with a warning from the university and the second complaint ended in Diei’s expulsion from the program.

“I was absolutely disgusted by that decision,” Diei told WMC. “I felt though it was definitely unwarranted. I still don’t know what I did wrong. It has never been clarified or explained.”

Diei was able to appeal and have that decision overturned.

But her case caught the attention of the staff attorney at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Education.

“Now I’ve never asked my pharmacist what their Instagram looks like and I don’t personally think there is anything unprofessional about Kimberly’s Instagram feed or Twitter feed,” said Greg Harold Greubel.

Attorney Greg Harold Greubel said he’s seen an increase in cases where universities are policing their students’ social media activity.

Greubel filed a civil lawsuit against the University of Tennessee claiming Diei’s 1st and 14th amendment rights were violated of freedom of speech and due process.

“So if the University of Tennessee administrators, they have this vague law and policy that says they can punish you for anything that is crude, well what’s crude to one person or crude to another person are completely different things,” said Greubel.

The University of Tennessee did not respond to WMC’s request for comment which is a general practice when it comes to pending legal matters.

As for Diei, she has no intention to stop posting on her personal social media accounts.

“I refuse to be silenced. I’m gonna use my voice,” she said.

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