College student sues UTHSC after sexually suggestive posts investigated for code of conduct violations

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Tennessee college student filed a lawsuit against the University of Tennessee Health Science Center for violating her right to free speech and due process.

Kimberly Diei claimed she was nearly expelled from the pharmacy program over sexually suggestive posts on social media where she has thousands of followers.

A screenshot of one of the social media posts, referenced in the lawsuit

Records show UT chairperson Christa George first contacted Diei that September. She said she received an anonymous tip about Diei’s social media posts violating the school’s professionalism code.

But, as stated in the lawsuit, the link to the school’s code shows an error message online.

After a hearing, Diei wrote a letter to the UTHSC board and continued as a student. The lawsuit says she tried to censor her social media posts, in which she uses a pseudonym and shows no affiliation or connection to the school.

But one year later, in August 2020, documents say UT officials reached out again, this time over pictures and song lyrics the student posted. After another hearing, the board voted to expel Diei, only to reverse their decision three weeks later.

According to her lawsuit, she fears it is only a matter of time before the issue comes up again.

Her attorneys said the university is infringing on her right to free speech and due process. They asked for a federal court to declare the school’s conduct policies unconstitutional and award unspecified monetary relief.

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