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Student banned from U after Facebook posts

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS
  • Star Tribune
  • December 15, 2009 - 11:23 PM

The University of Minnesota mortuary science student was upset and angry after breaking up with her boyfriend, and told her Facebook friends that she was "looking forward to Monday's embalming therapy. ... Give me room, lots of aggression to be taken out with a trocar [a sharp surgical instrument used in embalming]."

Now she's banned from campus because three instructors in the mortuary science program felt threatened after being made aware of her Facebook posts, prompting a police investigation.

According to the police report, Amanda Tatro, 29, followed her first posting with one that read: "I still want to stab a certain someone in the throat with a trocar though. Hmmm ... perhaps I will spend the evening updating my 'Death List #5' and making friends with the crematory guy. I do know the code ..."

"Death List #5" is a reference to the movie "Kill Bill."

When Tatro got to class Monday, she was patted down and questioned by University of Minnesota police.

The instructors had shared their concerns with police, with one saying that she "did not feel comfortable having [the student] in the lab due to the remarks on Facebook," according to the police report.

Tatro told police that the posts were "just me venting," she said. "I got dumped, which is never a nice thing. I was bitter and really angry about it. For whatever reason, this professor took it personally."

Police are not filing charges and consider the matter closed, U spokesman Daniel Wolter said by e-mail.

Privacy law prevents the U from commenting on the specifics of Tatro's case, but Wolter said that "in a case such as this, the case is typically referred to our Office for Student Conduct and Academic Integrity, which will interview the student, review evidence and make some kind of finding."

It's hardly the first time a posting on the popular social media site has led to police being alerted. Nationwide, more dire threats have led to charges.

Faulkner University in Alabama recently locked down its campus after statements on a student's Facebook page resulted in him being arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat. A student at St. John's University in New York faced a similar charge after posting Facebook messages threatening to commit a "Virginia Tech attack." And in January 2008, a football player at Wake Forest University in North Carolina was dismissed from the team over a note on his Facebook page saying he would "blow up campus."

Despite Tatro's concerns that her ban from campus will mean not being able to participate in the process of reviewing her case, Wolter said that "students are entitled to due process and to participate in the process, as well as an appeals process should they disagree with the outcome."

Tatro hopes that happens quickly: She's already missed an exam and is set to miss several more. She has since set her Facebook profile to private.

Staff writer Vince Tuss contributed to this report. Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

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