George Zimmerman Kicked Out of College

The man who killed Trayvon Martin has been expelled from junior college because he's so controversial.

The man who killed Trayvon Martin has been expelled from junior college because he’s so controversial.

Inside Higher Ed (“College Kicks Out Man Who Killed Trayvon Martin“):

Seminole State College has expelled George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, setting off a debate over whether Florida has been too slow to charge Zimmerman in the shooting, WKMG News reported. College officials released a statement saying: “Due to the highly charged and high-profile controversy involving this student, Seminole State has taken the unusual but necessary step this week to withdraw Mr. Zimmerman from enrollment. This decision is based solely on our responsibility to provide for the safety of our students on campus as well as for Mr. Zimmerman.” Zimmerman was enrolled in an associate in arts degree in general studies.

This is both understandable and deeply troublesome.

Understandable because there is surely a genuine concern for student safety here. Zimmerman is nationally reviled and could conceivably be the target of violence. Additionally, there’s a real chance at protests not only disrupting the school but turning violent.

Troublesome because this is, in effect, a state institution punishing a man who has not only not been proven guilty of a crime but one who has not even been formally charged with one. Further, this amounts to an extreme heckler’s veto.

via Glenn Reynolds

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    I agree. Let’s at least pretend to have due process.

  2. Beth says:

    Sigh. He’s been administratively withdrawn for one term, not the rest of his life. But, seriously, if as all reports indicate, he’s in hiding and hasn’t been seen since the shooting . . . they did him a favor. At this point in the term, students cannot withdraw themselves, they require an administrative withdrawal for “extreme circumstances.” This way, he doesn’t tank his GPA and, assuming that he wants to go back, he can without jeopardizing his financial aid status or his future program options.

    I’m saying this, of course, assuming that he hasn’t attended classes in a month.

  3. Hey Norm says:

    The school has an obligation to protect me if I’m sitting in a class next to Zimmerman.
    I presume they are not equipped to do that at all times if he is present. Given reduced funding for these institutions that’s not suprising.
    Imagine for a moment the $hitstorm they would endure should something happen.
    On balance they are doing the responsible thing.

  4. Franklin says:

    As I pointed out when Doug last used the term “heckler’s veto”, in my opinion incorrectly, it only applies when the government curtails free speech rights. While a State College is, of course, affiliated with the government unlike a private college, I’m not sure its mandates can be seen the same way as if the police prevented Zimmerman from attending. Second, this isn’t preventing him from speaking freely, it’s obstructing his rights to move about freely. On the other hand, you did say “this amounts to” rather than “this is”.

  5. Franklin says:

    Oh, by the way, I still totally agree with the gist of this post. Almost the whole point of security is to deal with issues that come up. Imagine if that girl who Rush Limbaugh called a slut suddenly started getting death threats from ditto-heads. You think her university would simply kick her out of school because she had a security problem? Hell no, they wouldn’t. It’s a bit of a double-standard here because people (even me) think Zimmerman is the guilty party here. But me thinking that doesn’t make it so.

  6. @Hey Norm:

    The school has an obligation to protect me if I’m sitting in a class next to Zimmerman.

    Suppose an extremist white supremacist group started bombing black student groups. Should the schools adminstratively withdraw all of the black students to protect the people sitting next to them? Suppose there’s an attack on Iran and Hezbollah began attacks on Jewish student groups. Should the Jewish students all be administratively withdrawn to protect the people sitting next to them?

  7. Hey Norm says:

    @ Stormy…
    Bad analogies…every single one.
    Zimmerman has become a lightening rod based on his own actions.
    Indeed…he has gone into hiding for fear of his life and there are by his attorney’s statements threats on his life.
    For the institution to allow him to disrupt classes and put other students at risk is irresponsible.
    I realize Zimmerman has not been charged and has not enjoyed due process. But he did shoot someone…and he’s not Dick Cheney. So his life is going to be a little messed up for a while.
    I see nothing wrong with the School taking that into consideration.

  8. Frankly, SSC would probably be in a heap of trouble if they hadn’t acted; the Virginia Tech lawsuit that the plaintiffs just won* opens the floodgate for claims against colleges that don’t act immediately and decisively against anyone who could be reasonably construed as a threat.

    That said, SSC is a state actor and if Zimmerman is either acquitted or the state declines to prosecute, he should be readmitted forthwith.

    * Disclaimer: of course, I’m a VT employee, although I didn’t work here at the time of the 2007 shootings (and I think the plaintiffs winning is based on a lot of hindsight bias; I don’t think a reasonable person in their shoes in 2007 would have acted much differently than the VT admin did, just as I don’t think a reasonable person would have prevented a hijacking on 9/11 without the precedent of 9/11 in place).

  9. @Hey Norm:

    For the institution to allow him to disrupt classes and put other students at risk is irresponsible.

    He’s not disrupting classes. Again, that’s the problem here. If students can be blamed for the actions of people who object to them being on campus, you’re creating a situation where any extremist group that wants to see some portion of the student body pushed of campus can do so by threatening violence.

    Aside from the moral aspects, is it a good idea from a public policy standpoint to incentivize terrorism?

  10. Hey Norm says:

    @ SD…
    The guy is in hiding. Why don’t you invite him over for dinner?

  11. Clivesl says:

    Poor guy, all he did was follow and shoot a seventeen year old to death. For that he has to put his dream of attaining his associate in arts degree in general studies on hold for a whole term. The man can’t catch a break I tell you.

  12. @Clivesl:

    Zimmerman should be charged with a crime, but Zimmerman isn’t really the issue here. It’s that a state university is expelling students guilty of no misconduct purely due to political pressure, which sets a dangerous precedent.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    Hmm. If they withdrew him because other people were threatening him, then it is wrong. If they withdrew him because he goes around armed and has used that weapon to kill an unarmed teenager under highly suspicious circumstances, more power to them. Seriously, would you want to sit in class next to Zimmerman while he is carrying a gun, nervous, jumpy and you are in a state where all he has to do is say he felt threatened by you and he gets out of jail free? Con’t drop your book behind him is all I can say…

  14. Jenos Idanian says:

    Headline: “State School suspends Hispanic for being victim of death threats”

    I’m so glad cooler heads are prevailing. I’m relieved that professional agitators like Spike Lee aren’t Tweeting his home address, and terrorist hate groups like the Black Panthers aren’t putting a bounty on his head. Thank heavens we live in a land where law prevails, and mob rule is not tolerated.

  15. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MarkedMan: Most college campuses are “gun-free zones.” Doesn’t that magically make everything and everyone safer?

  16. MarkedMan says:

    Does anyone know if Florida has a no guns on campus rule?

  17. John Burgess says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Increasingly, universities are being forced by state legislatures and/or courts to rescind their ‘gun free’ rules. Oregon and Colorado are among the most recent to do so.

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Most college campuses are “gun-free zones.” Doesn’t that magically make everything and everyone safer?

    Not everything and everyone. And i hope Florida has retained at least that level of sanity. I would certainly feel safer being around Zimmerman if he didn’t have a gun. Wouldn’t you?

  19. +1 to what Beth said; the action described by Inside Higher Ed, expulsion, does not match the action described in the statement issued by Seminole State College, “”Due to the highly charged and high-profile controversy involving this student, Seminole State has taken the unusual but necessary step this week to withdraw Mr. Zimmerman from enrollment’ . ” Expulsion has multiple negative consquences, while withdrawal is benficial to Zimmerman (assuming that the ongoing events have distracted him from his studies as one would expect).

  20. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MarkedMan: From what I can see, there was a proposal to allow guns on campuses in 2010-2011, but it appears to have failed. So I’m assuming that Florida’s state-run campuses are still, legally, “gun-free zones.”

    Further, “Florida Students for Concealed Carry” are boasting about how active they are on the U of Florida campus and how hard they’re working, so that kinda implies they haven’t achieved their goal. Plus, they’re planning an “empty holster protest,” which is usually a sign that they can’t legally fill that holster.

  21. mattb says:

    I have to agree with Jame’s second point and @Chris Lawrence follow up. Until such time as Zimmerman was charged, he should not have been placed on administrative leave. It’s especially problematic that this was a state institution.

    That said, Virginia Tech, and the recent decision, has placed school officials in an untenable position. And while it might not justify a CYA move like this, it does make it much more understandable.

  22. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MarkedMan: Yeah, I worry when Hispanics have guns.

    Sorry, that was uncalled for.

    I’ve been around a lot of armed people in my life, and very rarely has it worried me. Plus, as more and more details emerge about this case, Zimmerman is coming across less and less like a crazed racist psycho killer, and more a guy who did a few dumb things. Plus, there’s more and more indications that young Mr. Martin wasn’t exactly a passive victim or a saintlike martyr. 17, multiple tattoos, gold teeth, and a Twitter account under the name of “@NO_LIMIT_NIGGA.”

    My hunch: Zimmerman was overly aggressive and did several stupid things, Martin met hostility with force, Zimmerman soon found himself on the losing end of a fight (apparently he had a broken nose, was bloodied, and had other minor injuries) and went for his gun. No grand racist scheme, no intent to commit murder, just a stupid incident that went way, way out of control.

    This is not something that deserves or needs national attention. In fact, I’d say it’s past the point where the national attention might do any good.

  23. Jenos Idanian says:

    Well, one good point about his withdrawal: it’ll make it that much harder for anyone to collect the bounty the Black Panthers have put on Zimmerman’s head.

    Hmm… I wonder if Zimmerman could collect that himself?

  24. @MarkedMan

    Google “FSU student arrested for two counts of weapons possession on campus”.

    See also Florida Statute 790.06

    “A license issued under this section does not authorize any person to openly carry a handgun or carry a concealed weapon or firearm into:

    Any college or university facility unless the licensee is a registered student, employee, or faculty member of such college or university and the weapon is a stun gun or nonlethal electric weapon or device designed solely for defensive purposes and the weapon does not fire a dart or projectile”

  25. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Charles Fenwick: That’s how I read it, as well. It sounds like he’s just been withdrawn for the current semester.

    I would be highly surprised if he’s leaving the house at all right now. I can’t imagine that he’s gone to class for at least a couple of weeks.

  26. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “Plus, there’s more and more indications that young Mr. Martin wasn’t exactly a passive victim or a saintlike martyr.”

    So now we learn that in Jenos-world, it’s bad to kill a black kid if he’s a saintlike martyr, but if he’s anything less shining than Augustine, it’s open season and white folks are well within their rights to open fire.

    But Jenos isn’t a racist. He’s told us that repeatedly. Because as long as he types out “Raaaacist” a couple of times, he can call for the elmination of any minority who doesn’t fit his standards of probity and know that he’s just tellin’ it like it is.

  27. ernieyeball says:

    “…17, multiple tattoos, gold teeth,..”

    …oh yeah…and black…

    Apparently only “saintlike martyrs” deserve justice in Idanianland.

  28. Jenos Idanian says:

    @ernieyeball: No, the point is the initial narrative is falling apart. That initial narrative, of “psycho white supremacist stalked and killed saintly black child.”

    The “psycho white supermacist” turns out to be Hispanic who got roughed up in the struggle. And the “innocent child” may very well have been kicking the “psycho white supremacist’s” ass in said struggle.

    Zimmerman most likely did break some laws. From what I’ve seen, the killing might end up as manslaughter. The onus for the whole confrontation is solidly on Zimmerman.

    But screw all that. If I go down there and give Zimmerman over to the Black Panthers, can I have the ten grand?

  29. Jenos Idanian says:

    @WR: Your side has the lynch mobs at the ready, chucklehead. Your side’s the one Tweeting Zimmerman’s home address and offering a bounty on him. And you seem just fine with that.

  30. JKB says:

    Anybody want to be they keep his tuition?

    But if they are basing the expulsion on some perceived threat to safety by Zimmerman himself, well, I hope he sues them to the ground. There is no reasonable grounds to suspect Zimmerman is a himself threat to safety at the school.

    Now, it is true that a violent racist organization has issued a bounty for his “capture” and called for his death via vigilante action. Based on these calls for vigilanteism, for which leaders in the federal government and black community have given tacit approval by their silence, it would be reasonable, for collateral damage fears, to ask Mr. Zimmerman to remain off-campus.

    Although it does show yet another school that is is not a center for open discourse nor a bastion for American values such as innocent until proven guilty.

  31. Franklin says:

    @Jenos Idanian: I don’t remember anyone calling Zimmerman a psycho white supremacist … do you have a link for that? Some people did point to race because, well, white kids walking down the street with Skittles aren’t usually considered ‘suspicious.’

    Second, nobody called Trayvon ‘saintly’. But if somebody was stalking him and he ended up protecting himself by kicking Zimmerman’s ass, yes he is still ‘innocent’. This is based on the information we have right now.

    Your claim that the narrative has “changed” doesn’t seem to have any evidence backing it up. So are you going to:
    1) Provide some evidence, or
    2) Retract your statement, or
    3) Blame the Black Panthers for all your problems?

  32. Monala says:

    @ernieyeball: The kid in Jenos’ link doesn’t look anything like the Trayvon Martin who was killed. It’s someone who happens to share the same name.

  33. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: I don’t have a “side.” I’m not involved with any of the Scary Black People who make you hide under your bed. I’m simply not claiming that any white person has the right to gun down a young black man if he’s not the moral equivalent of Jesus.

  34. WR says:

    @JKB: “There is no reasonable grounds to suspect Zimmerman is a himself threat to safety at the school.”

    Unless they admit blacks. Then he might feel compelled to make the campus safer by shooting a couple of them.

  35. 11B40 says:


    Well, I guess that that kind of evens up Mr. Martin’s suspension from his school, don’cha think ??? And, it’s certainly a much better deal than Coach Paterno got from Penn State, no ??? So, what’s the problem ??? Did you think that he’d be bringing his pistol to school ???

    Where would we be with all these really educated people striving to help.

  36. JKB says:


    Other than you fevered imagination, do you have any fact-based evidence that such a thing might even be a remote realistic possibility?

  37. Jenos Idanian says:

    @JKB: Be kind, JKB. Take away his fevered imagination, and WR has nothing left.

  38. DRS says:

    Poor wooby. Not only did he fall down, go boom and get his shirt all dirty with grass stains during his epic battle to keep his neighbourhood safe from Skittle-wielding and iced-tea-quaffing teenagers but now it appears that his notoriety is having an impact on other parts of his life.

    The life he still has, of course. Not like the kid he shot.

  39. An Interested Party says:

    But if they are basing the expulsion on some perceived threat to safety by Zimmerman himself, well, I hope he sues them to the ground.

    Well, he is going to need to find a way to make some money so he’ll be able to shop at the prison commissary…

    Did you think that he’d be bringing his pistol to school ???

    Why not? He’s already shown that he can overreact to a situation and pull out his gun…

  40. Cheryl Stoy says:

    Screw following any legal process….none was followed when the damn crime was committed so so why worry about Zimmerman getting treated fair? He sure as hell didn’t want Martin to have “due process” did he? And there can be no “due process” for Zimmerman even if this jerk finally gets arrested. They did not bring charges against him when the crime was committed so the evidence for this case was not secured. He can now make up his own version of events and there’s nothing or no one to dispute that.THAT’S WHY THESE LAWS ARE CREATED…they interrupt the normal process and ESSENTIALLY let killers walk free.

    It’s now his word against a dead black male. Case closed. Our best hope is he walks through another idiot’s neighborhood and that person stands his ground.

  41. RealEyes says:

    All lhe did was follow and shoot an unarmed 17 year old………..and he cannot catch a break? Are you serious?………….the guy is a murderer! Wonder how you would react if some guy just followed and shot your 17 year old sister/brother?? You are a real piece of work. May hell receive zimmerman, or just follow him where ever he goes!