SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: September 17, 2019

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Ural State Economic University

Region & Country:Europe | Russia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 17, 2019, administrative authorities at Ural State Economic University (UrGEU) in Yekaterinburg, Russia, reportedly summoned a student to a meeting on campus, where they threatened him with expulsion based on suspicions regarding his sexual orientation.

The 18-year-old first-year undergraduate student, who is not named in multiple media reports, informed news outlets that he had been summoned to campus by an administrator. When he arrived, his institute’s director reportedly told the student that the university had established a group to monitor students’ social media activity, and that they had seen that the student belonged to an LGBTQ group. The student reported that he was then taken to a meeting with Roman Krasnov, the school’s dean for student development. Krasnov reportedly informed the student that he was “defiling the institute’s name,” and claimed that his social media activity, combined with his ownership of a pink phone, proved that he was homosexual. According to local media reports, the student was under threat of expulsion.

University officials held a meeting on September 18 to discuss the student’s situation. Although the officials claim that they were never planning on expelling the student, they have confirmed that they were monitoring his and other students’ social media activity to assess the students’ “moral character,” and that participation in LGBTQ groups online constituted pro-gay propaganda and would not be accepted by the university. The student reportedly unsubscribed to the LGBTQ social media groups.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about threats of expulsion of a student based on the student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, or participation in groups supportive of LGBTQ rights. Such actions erode freedom of association, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and university values including equitable access. University authorities have an obligation to protect, rather than diminish these rights on campus.