Monday, January 8, 2007

BALTIMORE (AP) — A Johns Hopkins University student who was suspended for a year for writing an invitation to a fraternity “Halloween in the Hood” party has had his punishment reduced after an appeal, according to a nonprofit free-speech group that has been advocating on his behalf.

Justin Park posted the invitation on the Web site The posting described Baltimore as an “HIV pit” and urged guests to wear “bling bling ice ice, grills” and “hoochie hoops.” A skeleton pirate with dreadlocks hanging from a nose was used as decoration at the Sigma Chi fraternity party Oct. 28.

Members of the university’s Black Student Union held a rally to protest the event. University President William R. Brody issued a statement shortly after the party, saying he was “personally offended” and calling it “deeply disturbing.”

Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said Mr. Park was “satisfied with the outcome of his appeal.” But Mr. Lukianoff said Mr. Park shouldn’t be punished at all for exercising his right to free speech.

Mr. Lukianoff said Mr. Park asked that details of the reduced punishment not be released. However, Mr. Lukianoff said the sanctions had been “significantly reduced” and that Mr. Park intends to return to the school.

Mr. Park initially was suspended until January 2008. The punishment also required him to perform 300 hours of community service, read 12 books and write a paper on each one and attend a workshop on diversity and race relations.

Mr. Park, who was the social chairman of the Sigma Chi fraternity chapter, could not be reached for comment.

Dennis O’Shea, a spokesman for Johns Hopkins, said the university could not comment, citing student privacy rules.

The university’s Student Conduct Board placed the fraternity on social probation until next January, barring it from holding parties and other social events.

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