Brandeis Slaps Student Journalist with New Punishment

'No contact order' issued in response to article

January 8, 2015

A Brandeis University student journalist unsuccessfully prosecuted for "harassment" by university officials has now been slapped with a "no contact order" restricting his movement on campus, according to documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The latest punishment against Brandeis senior Daniel Mael follows an article he wrote drawing attention to tweets by another student leader who endorsed on Twitter the recent murder of two New York City police officers and declared that "amerikkka needs an intifada."

The "no contact order" forbids Mael from being in the same physical location on campus as student Michael Piccione, who launched a campaign to convince the Brandeis administration to punish Mael for writing the article.

The latest action against Mael appears to contradict an assertion in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal by school president Fred Lawrence that Brandeis maintains an "unyielding commitment to free speech."

The effort to regulate Mael’s movement on campus comes on the heels of an earlier incident detailed in a recent Wall Street Journal report. Mael had been targeted by the university for alleged "harassment" and subjected to a secret, yearlong campus judicial proceeding that could have resulted in his expulsion.

These charges were eventually dropped after Mael retained legal counsel and fought back.

In response to Mael’s article about the anti-cop tweets, student leader Piccione sent a Dec. 22 mass email to Brandeis students and administrators headlined, "Holding Daniel Mael accountable."

In the email, obtained by the Free Beacon, Piccione aimed to galvanize the campus against Mael, accusing him of inciting hate and violating several university code of conduct statues, including "stalking."

Piccione explained that his email "is a request from many members of the Brandeis community that the student responsible for the incident be held accountable for his actions."

Blaming Mael for the outrage generated by Lynch’s statements, Piccione said Mael "must be aware of the impact that publishing such articles could have on other people's safety, and it is important that he be held accountable for his actions."

Two days after Piccione’s email, Mael was slapped with a "no contact order," which prevents him from being in the same vicinity as Piccione, according to an email from Brandeis Dean of Students Jamele Adams obtained by the Free Beacon.

"As shared when we spoke on the phone moments ago in relation to a No Contact Order, you are to have no contact with Michael Piccione in any way, shape or form," Adams wrote. "Please be aware that the same applies to Michael and that he is not to have contact with you. This same information is being shared with him as well."

"In the event one party is at a location before the other, the party that was present second must await the departure of the first," Adams wrote. "Any alleged violation(s) of these conditions should be reported to the Dean of Students Office. These measures will remain in place until further notice. If you have inquiries in this regard, please share them with me. Thank you for your cooperation."

Mael told the Free Beacon that there had been no due process or judicial proceeding surrounding the "no contact" order.

"My movement on campus has been restricted because I wrote an article," Mael told the Free Beacon. "And this punishment has been imposed without any due process."

The targeting of Mael by the Brandeis administration over his work as a journalist, and the absence of due process in the proceedings against him, were major themes of Brandeis’s previous action against Mael, documented last week by the Wall Street Journal.

During that episode, fellow student and J Street activist Eli Philip accused Mael of "bullying, harassment, and religious discrimination" over a campus dispute, charges the Brandeis administration agreed to prosecute before dropping the case.

Brandeis officials maintain that the new order is not an attempt to stifle Mael’s free speech.

"Though we don't comment on specific [no contact orders], we need to reiterate first and foremost that they are not a punitive action and do not impact a student's record in any way," Brandeis spokesman William Schaller told the Free Beacon.

"NCOs are designed to address direct interactions between two parties when one or both parties is concerned about the impact of that interaction, or there are other safety concerns," he said. "They are not designed to restrict speech."

Schaller said that his statement speaks for both Adams and Lawrence, who did not directly respond to Free Beacon requests for comment on the matter.

Piccione also did not respond to an email seeking comment.