Experiencing Interruptions?

Over, Under or Through

Christian DeJohn served in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. He was deployed to Bosnia after 9/11 and completed coursework overseas. He was on track to get his master’s degree in military history from Temple University.

But when DeJohn returned from deployment, Temple professors and administrators decided they didn’t like his pro-military opinions. Tired of his outspokenness in class, they began a petty vendetta against him that culminated in a refusal to conduct an impartial review of DeJohn’s completed master’s thesis, which prevented him from ever receiving his degree.

DeJohn’s subsequent lawsuit against Temple’s overbroad harassment policy, which was used to police his and other students’ speech, resulted in a landmark victory for free speech rights in higher education.

Despite being saddled with student loan payments for a Temple degree he never received, DeJohn says he’d do it all over again.

  • Aaron Reese
  • Aaron Reese
  • Christian DeJohn
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Short Documentary
  • Runtime:
    32 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    November 11, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    3,500 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, 1920x1080
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Aaron Reese

Aaron has spent his career producing, shooting, and editing videos and television shows for organizations in the Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia area.

Aaron began working at FIRE in 2016, and directs and edits videos ranging from live events to animations to feature length documentaries. He regularly releases videos relating to FIRE cases and free speech principles.

As a documentary filmmaker, he was Co-Director and Editor of “Mighty Ira: A Civil Liberties Story” (2020), which told the story former Executive Director of the ACLU Ira Glasser and most recently, “Over, Under or Through” (2021), which highlights veteran Christian DeJohn and his 15 year struggle to receive his Masters Degree because of his political beliefs.

Aaron graduated from the University of Illinois School of Art and Design and has worked on numerous productions ranging from television to feature film. Aaron also edits two podcasts for FIRE, So to Speak: The Free Speech podcast and Free Speech Out Loud.

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Director Statement

In October 2020, I met veteran Christian DeJohn to discuss his important federal court victory for free speech. Christian’s case, DeJohn v. Temple, was ultimately decided in 2008, and it has come to signify a key victory for the First Amendment on campus.

We discussed his background, how he came to join the armed services, his 2002 deployment to Bosnia, and his connection with military historian and Temple University professor Russell Weigley.

Over the next year, we met several more times at the Delaware County Veterans Memorial. Although Temple University never granted Christian his masters degree in history, he vindicated free speech for students across the country while pursuing his passion for military history.