Western Washington University: Punishment of Racing Team for Sending a Group Snapchat Photo of a Penis Drawing on a Pizza Box


Western Washington University

Search all Cases

Case Overview

On November 3, 2023, Western Washington University suspended its racing team for “inappropriate images on whiteboards and otherwise,” prompted by a Snapchat photo sent by a team member to other teammates of a penis drawing on a pizza box in their lab space. WWU warned the team that “continued posting of penis images is completely inappropriate and is not funny in the least,” adding that it is assertedly “a symbol of white, male power and domination.” WWU also directed the team to “never post anything that would embarrass the department, the University, SAE [Society of Automotive Engineers] International, or the WWU Racing team.” FIRE wrote WWU on November 20 explaining how the First Amendment protects even crude and vulgar student expression, which thus may not form the basis of any university punishment. After WWU promised to resolve the issue internally but failed to do so, FIRE wrote again on April 15, 2024, reiterating our request for the university to respect student free speech rights and honor its constitutional obligations going forward.