I appreciate Todd's and Jim's responses, linked below; as I noted at the outset, there may well be some misbehavior of various sorts by the administrators. But the student account that Todd points to seems to be a little odd as an attempt at intimidation:
Next [the administrator] began questioning me about my personal life, including my membership in student groups. He had made clear to me that he knew which groups I belonged to, what positions I held, and who my friends were. As I answered his questions, I got the distinct impression that he was checking his notes against my replies, verifying the records in a file he had compiled on me.
If a student holds positions in groups, that sounds like a pretty public matter; it's hard for me to be too troubled by the university administrators' knowing this. If indeed the administration had somehow compiled a dossier on all this person's friends, that would be intimidating in more a spooky stalker way than anything else; but I'm not even sure from the account that this is quite what was going on (though maybe I'm just drawing an inference here from how unlikely I think it is for administrators to spend time doing this). Todd also writes:
The clear concern expressed here is not about a political disagreement, but rather that the administrator was threatening to use this personal information to try to embarrass this student and/or his friends. As I read Eugene's post, he seems to misunderstand the phrase in the story "I think when someone tries to let you know that they know what you're up to" to mean that the administrator was monitoring the student's political views, when in fact, the reference is to the administrator monitoring the student's personal life.
How exactly would the administrators be likely to use their knowledge of the groups to which the student belongs -- or even who his friends are -- "to embarrass this student and/or his friends"? Presumably the student thinks that his public statements were quite sound, so even if the administration somehow reports on the student's public statements to the groups to which the student belongs, the student ought to be proud of the statements rather than embarrassed. Perhaps the student was worrying that the administration would argue to the groups (and the student's friends) that it thought the student's public statements were mistaken; but it seems to me that someone who makes public statements criticizing the administration should be prepared for the administration's responding that those statements are mistaken. Now obviously if the administrator was actually threatening to blackmail the student with the revelation of some private information (the student's grades, the student's medical history, or what have you), that would be different. But I didn't get any sense of that from the post.
I think it's great that students are willing to publicly criticize the university administration. I think universities shouldn't expel students, discipline students, grade down students, and the like because of the students' criticisms. But students should be ready to be criticized back, and to be remonstrated with by those who take the criticisms personally. Likewise, if a student holds a position (doubtless publicly announced) in a student group and makes public statements, it may well be that the other members of the student group will be told of the student's public statements; public speakers and group leaders should be prepared for that.
Again, as I've said, it may be the administrators were rude, petty, or dishonest (or maybe not). But it's important, I think, to distinguish that from actual censorship or intimidation.