FIRE in College of William and Mary’s ‘Flat Hat’

By January 27, 2009

Today’s Flat Hat, The College of William and Mary’s student newspaper, reports that William and Mary has again received a "red light" rating from FIRE because the school has at least one policy that clearly and substantially restricts the freedom of speech of its students. Last year’s article on this rating by The Flat Hat unfortunately did not prompt William and Mary to revise its policies.

This year, however, The Flat Hat asked President Taylor Reveley what he thought, perhaps because FIRE directly wrote President Reveley about the school’s rating about a month ago along with similar letters to hundreds of other public colleges and universities nationwide. Many schools have responded directly to FIRE already.

President Reveley told The Flat Hat that "William and Mary has a long tradition of respecting First Amendment rights." Perhaps he does not know the details of FIRE’s case at William and Mary in 2003–2004, when Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Mark Constantine and then-President Timothy J. Sullivan put their feet in their mouths several times trying (and failing) to account for the suppression of a satirical "Affirmative Action Bake Sale" on campus. For the record, the sorry details are on FIRE’s website.

Fortunately, Reveley also told The Flat Hat that "We are reviewing our policies to be sure none of them might be read to limit free speech … If we find any language that might theoretically violate the first amendment, we’ll fix the problem."

That would be perfect. The policies that FIRE has found in this regard are quoted and provided in PDF form for easy use. We look forward to the results of this review.

Schools: The College of William and Mary