UNF professor suspended without pay following class 'Aloha Party'

University police called to class where officers found alcohol

By Nick Jones - Digital producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Following an end-of-the-year party where police at the University of North Florida discovered alcohol in a classroom, Dr. Brian Thornton has been suspended without pay for the 2019 fall semester.

Body camera video that was first obtained by the UNF Spinnaker shows the communications professor being questioned by university police. An officer is heard saying alcohol, including a 12-pack of beer, was found in the classroom during the professor's "Aloha Party."

ICYMI: UNF police discover alcohol during class's end-of-year party

A notice of suspension letter that was provided to News4Jax and first reported by the Spinnaker sheds light on how university police became aware of the party. It reads in part:

"This matter came to the University's attention when a student posted pictures regard the Aloha Party on social media. This post was observed by a staff member who contacted the University Police Department (UPD)...

"On the body camera footage, there were alcohol containers visibly present including a case of beer in the front of the classroom, close to where you were sitting, playing the guitar."

The letter noted two of the 14 students who were present after the officers arrived were under the legal drinking age. The notice said Thornton claimed he didn't know the students were drinking in the classroom, which the notice called an "unreasonable" claim.

In addition, the letter noted there were reports that students in an earlier class may have been drinking. The notice reads in part:

"It had been reported that students in your earlier class that day reportedly were drinking. That matter is still under investigation."

During the suspension, Thornton is not allowed to report to campus or have contact with students from the 2019 semester.

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