National Free Speech Group Reproaches Lewis & Clark for Punishing Athletes For Tasteless Inside Joke

April 24, 2014

By Kate Willson at Willamette Week

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education fired off a letter of reprimand last week to Lewis & Clark College President Barry Glassner, accusing the school of failing to abide by its “institutional promises that bind it morally and legally to protect free expression,”according to a story by the student newspaper, the Pioneer Log.

The reprimand stems from a November exchange between two football players, one black and one white, in which they trade racial slurs as part of an inside joke, the paper reported. A month later the student athletes were hauled in front of the College Review Board, found to have used discriminatory language and placed on unconditional probation for one year. That means if they get into trouble again, they could be suspended from school.

Tom Krattenmaker, associate vice president for public affairs and communications at Lewis & Clark College would not discuss the case on the record with thePioneer Log‘s managing editor Caleb Diehl, nor did he return a call seeking comment fromWW.

“Places like Lewis and Clark aren’t bound by the first amendment, even though they make at least some promises of free speech,” Peter Bonilla of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, tells WW. “It’s endemic to the university system on the whole. Universities are risk adverse and very PR minded. They want to do their best to control the flow of news from the top.”

Schools: Lewis & Clark College Cases: Lewis & Clark College: Two Students Guilty of ‘Harassment’ for Racial Jokes at Party