Washington and Lee University: Student Groups Prohibited from Displaying Campaign Materials

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Washington and Lee University

On September 12, 2021, a Washington and Lee administrator told the university’s chapter of the College Republicans that it could not display campaign materials for Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin while tabling at a student activities fair. The university justified its stance by claiming that its status as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization restricts the university’s political activities. FIRE wrote to W&L to explain that the university’s 501(c)(3) status does not restrict the political activities of its student groups, as students’ political speech is on their own behalf, not on the university’s behalf. The university failed to respond to FIRE, instead twice reiterating to the College Republicans that it may not display campaign materials.