His beef with an ex-girlfriend went from an inside joke between friends to an international news story overnight, all thanks to a wildly viral tweet that earned over 120,000 retweets.
The tweet showed him giving an apology note from his ex-girlfriend a letter grade of D-minus.
After posting a photo of the graded letter online, Lutz received thousands of social media notifications, texts, emails and phone calls, he told local TV station, telling him the tweet was “hilarious” and “relatable,” Lutz said.
From everyone except his ex-girlfriend, that is.
His ex, whose first name is visible in the posted letter, felt she was being cyberbullied, Lutz’s lawyer, Jacob Stuart, told the Miami Herald. She filed a grievance with the University of Central Florida, where Lutz is a senior studying sports management. The woman is not a student at UCF.
Five months after posting the tweet, on July 6, Lutz was suspended for the summer and fall 2017 semesters after he was found responsible for “disruptive conduct” and “harmful behavior” as outlined in UCF’s student code of conduct, Stuart told WFTV 9.
But just days after filing an appeal of the decision on July 17, Lutz’s suspension from the university was reversed after the UCF student conduct office found that there were “irregularities” that could have affected the outcome of Lutz’s conduct hearing.
After a very long process, I am pleased to announce that I have won my appeal! All charges against me have been revoked, thank you everyone! pic.twitter.com/FUYKFBo9MK
In the documents attached to a statement from Lutz and Stuart, Michael Gilmer, the director of UCF’s student conduct office, wrote that the “charges brought forward in this case were not supported by the original documentation received.”
“Upon review, it appears that the conduct charge on disruptive behavior was improvidently levied,” Gilmer wrote.
Gilmer added that though Lutz’s ex-girlfriend, whom Gilmer identifies as a “high school student with plans to attend UCF in the future,” experienced “substantial emotional distress,” Gilmer could not conclude that her distress was due to Lutz’s tweet or to the attention that the tweet received.
Stuart had previously argued in an appeal letter that Lutz had said nothing demeaning, derogatory or threatening about his ex-girlfriend and had no control over how others reacted to the tweet. Stuart also argued that UCF was violating Lutz’s right to freedom of expression.
“The right to enjoy freedom of speech is by no mean absolute,” Stuart wrote in the appeal letter. “Yet, there is only specific and extreme situations that this fundamental right is restricted by the government.”
Though Gilmer revoked all sanctions imposed on Lutz from the previous decision, Gilmer also called for a new hearing with new charges, “if appropriate charges are identified.”
Lutz and Stuart commended UCF for taking “their immediate and decisive action of revoking these ill-founded sanctions.”
“We look forward to this matter being resolved once and for all in the near future with UCF standing-down and not pursuing this matter further,” Lutz and Stuart’s statement said.
Prior to the reversal of the decision, UCF spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin told USA TODAY College in an email that in very public cases, UCF has “the option to ask the student involved to waive their FERPA rights so a more clear picture can emerge.” She indicated that Lutz had not yet done so, and did not comment further.
Though Lutz previously expressed regret about sharing the letter on social media in a February interview with the BBC, he now stands by the tweet, which remains pinned to his Twitter profile.
“This is the right thing to do, and I still feel that way, that there’s nothing wrong with what I did,” Lutz told WFTV 9, referencing the tweet as a method of standing up for himself after the relationship ended.
Haley Samsel is an American University student and a USA TODAY digital producer.