The College of William & Mary

Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

The College of William & Mary has been given the speech code rating Green. Green light institutions are those colleges and universities whose policies nominally protect free speech. Read more

Due Process Rating

Sexual Misconduct

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Non-Sexual Misconduct

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  • Use of Campus Facilities Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: September 18, 2019

    A. Prior Scheduling Is Generally Required. Except for spontaneous activities permitted under paragraph B, below, groups and individuals desiring to use university space and facilities must submit requests through the Scheduling Office as far in advance as practical. Any requests not received sufficiently in advance ... Read More
  • Student Handbook: Rights and Responsibilities- Rights, Privileges and Immunities

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 18, 2019

    The members of the university community, as individuals, shall enjoy all rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed every citizen of the United States and the commonwealth of Virginia. … Among the basic rights are freedom of expression and belief, freedom of association and peaceful assembly … Read More
  • Acceptable Use Policy for Students

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 18, 2019

    The following activities are prohibited: Transmitting unsolicited messages which constitute obscenity, harassment or threats … Read More
  • Student Handbook: Student Code of Conduct – Conduct Affecting Persons

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 18, 2019

    Causing physical harm, threatening harm to any person, or behaving in a manner that a reasonable person would find alarming or intimidating. Negligent conduct that results in injury to others violates the Student Code of Conduct. Read More

Policies are rated on their inclusion of 10 due process safeguards. Each policy may receive 2 points for fully including that safeguard, 1 point for partial inclusion, and 0 points for no meaningful inclusion. Most, but not all, institutions have separate policies for sexual misconduct and all other misconduct. See FIRE’s Spotlight on Due Process report for more information.


Sexual Misconduct

  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence

Non-Sexual Misconduct

  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence
  • College of William and Mary: Suppression of Affirmative Action Bake Sale

    January 23, 2004

    A student group critical of William and Mary’s race-based affirmative action policies held an affirmative action bake sale parodying the school’s policies. The student group contacted FIRE after the administration decided to censor the group’s activity. After receiving much criticism in the media, the administration relented and allowed a second bake sale, but would not… Read more

  • ‘Model’ William & Mary Student Defenders group prioritizes people over punishment

    September 3, 2019

    Most of them have never been in trouble before.  Undergraduates at The College of William & Mary are routinely among the premier students in the nation. The 300-year-old university, set on 1,200 idyllic acres in Williamsburg, Virginia, has been called a “Public Ivy,” and it only admits about a third of the students who apply…. Read more

  • Don’t shout down, speak up!

    July 10, 2018

    On Sept. 27, 2017,  student group W&M Concerned Students , shut down Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, the executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, from speaking at my school, College of William & Mary. Gastañaga’s speech topic was, ironically, “Students and the First Amendment.” A few minutes into her speech, hecklers began shouting phrases at Gastañaga… Read more

  • Student Defender Profile: Marvi Ali, chair of William & Mary’s Conduct and Honor Advisor Program

    July 18, 2017

    All this week, in honor of the debut of FIRE’s new Student Defenders program, we’ll be profiling students already involved in these initiatives at a handful of colleges and universities across the nation. While these groups are different at every school, student defenders are united by a common mission: helping peers accused of conduct violations… Read more

  • What comes next for students at ‘green light’ schools? Putting policy into practice.

    July 6, 2017

    FIRE has labeled my school, The College of William & Mary, a “green light” institution, meaning that we have policies supporting and protecting free speech on campus. I am proud of my school’s speech code rating; the prospect of being exposed to a wide range of ideas and perspectives is one of the reasons I… Read more

  • William & Mary’s ‘Flat Hat’ Champions Free Speech on Campus

    February 23, 2015

    FIRE’s Free Press Week may have been last week, but there is no shortage of examples of the value of a free student press. The latest proof of that comes from The College of William & Mary, where student newspaper The Flat Hat ran a terrific staff editorial on Thursday arguing against a proposal, submitted… Read more

  • Introducing FIRE Summer Intern Brendan Zehner

    June 17, 2014

    Brendan Zehner is a rising senior at The College of William and Mary (W&M), where he is a double major in history and public policy. He comes to FIRE as a staunch believer in the First Amendment and he hopes to gain the skills to become a force to be reckoned with when it comes to student rights and due process.

  • ‘Flat Hat’ Highlights William & Mary’s ‘Green Light’ Rating

    January 29, 2014

    The Flat Hat, the student newspaper at The College of William & Mary, points out this week that for yet another year, the university can boast of its “green light” rating for free speech. As The Flat Hat observes, William & Mary is one of an elite few institutions nationwide that maintain policies respecting free… Read more

  • Some U. of Rochester Students Just Don’t Get How Free Speech Works

    April 12, 2013

    Last week, I told you about the kerfuffle happening at the University of Rochester, where a professor, Steven Landsburg, has come under fire for hypothetical situations involving rape that he presented in a personal blog post. I praised university administrators for resisting the all-too-common urge to censor or punish the professor’s controversial expression, particularly since… Read more

  • William & Mary’s ‘Flat Hat’ Reminds Students: Freedom of Speech Must be Protected

    September 25, 2012

    Erlier this month, FIRE published our list of the seven best schools for free speech in 2012. On that list was The College of William & Mary, making its second appearance this year. However, as student newspaper The Flat Hat points out, the school’s history hasn’t always been free-speech friendly.  Carter Lockwood congratulates William &… Read more

  • Praise for Free Speech at Virginia Schools in ‘Richmond Times-Dispatch’

    June 1, 2011

    In response to Greg’s article on The Huffington Post commending the nation’s seven best colleges and universities for freedom of speech, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has offered glowing praise for the two Virginia schools that made the list (the University of Virginia (UVa) and the College of William & Mary) and for FIRE’s efforts in combating censorship on campuses nationwide…. Read more

  • FIRE Names Seven Best Schools for Free Speech on ‘Huffington Post’

    May 24, 2011

    PHILADELPHIA, May 24, 2011—Today the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) commends the nation’s seven best colleges and universities for freedom of speech in an article by FIRE President Greg Lukianoff on The Huffington Post. The colleges listed are Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, The College of William & Mary, the University of Pennsylvania,… Read more

  • Virginia Newspaper Touts Growing Number of ‘Green Light’ Schools

    February 8, 2011

    With only 14 “green light” colleges and universities in the entire country, the state of Virginia should be proud to be home to two of them. Writing in the Daily Press (Hampton Roads, Va.), Michael F. Cochrane commends the University of Virginia (UVa) and The College of William & Mary for preserving free speech on… Read more

  • New Video: William & Mary Alum Braum Katz Shares Tips on Getting Your School to ‘Green Light’

    November 10, 2010

    After his FIRE internship ended in the summer of 2007, Braum Katz left Philadelphia with a mission: to transform his school, The College of William & Mary, from a “red light” to a “green light” institution by reforming its unconstitutional campus policies. By rallying his fellow students and working in cooperation with the college administration,… Read more

  • How Do You Keep a College Student from Drinking?

    September 20, 2010

    Ban the table the alcohol sits on, apparently: WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY)—The College of William & Mary is banning tables that can be used for beer pong. The college said they are making the change to support their ban on drinking games. … For years, William & Mary has banned drinking games on campus. A recent… Read more

  • William & Mary Eliminates ‘Bias Incident Reporting System’; Trend Remains Popular Nationwide

    March 4, 2010

    The Virginia Informer reported yesterday that The College of William & Mary has removed its Bias Incident Reporting System from its website, bringing to a close a controversial chapter in William & Mary’s recent history. William & Mary first launched the Bias Incident Reporting System in the fall of 2007. In its initial incarnation, the… Read more

  • How Students Made a Difference for Liberty in 2009

    January 6, 2010

    For the past few days FIRE has been looking back over our list of accomplishments in 2009. That list would not be complete without mentioning the students who have worked so hard to make their campuses more free. At the College of William & Mary, former FIRE intern and Campus Freedom Network member Braum Katz… Read more

  • Rights in the News: With FIRE’s Help, Students Standing Up to Their Speech Codes

    October 16, 2009

    FIRE was elated to begin the week with the announcement that The College of William & Mary had reformed the last of its troublesome speech codes and become one of just eleven colleges to earn a "green light" rating in FIRE’s Spotlight database. Perhaps the fever has spread to neighboring James Madison University, where the… Read more

  • College of William & Mary Reforms Speech Codes and Receives ‘Green Light’ Rating

    October 12, 2009

    It’s not often that FIRE gets to praise a university for acting to protect the free speech rights of its students and faculty members, but today we’re happy to announce that The College of William & Mary has eliminated the last of its problematic speech policies. Because of this respect for the First Amendment rights… Read more

  • William & Mary Closes In on a “Green Light,” but One Dangerous Policy Remains

    September 25, 2009

    There is excellent news this week out of The College of William & Mary. The student newspaper The Informer reports that the W&M administration has revised several of the university’s speech codes, thanks to pressure from free speech advocates including former FIRE intern Braum Katz, a W&M senior. In particular, the administration has eliminated a ban on anonymous… Read more

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

    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… Read more

  • Unconstitutional ‘Bias Reporting’ Programs: A Nationwide Problem

    November 29, 2007

    This fall, The College of William & Mary launched a Bias Incident Reporting System “to assist members of the William and Mary community—students, staff, and faculty—in bringing bias incidents to the College’s attention.” In its initial incarnation, the system was fraught with constitutional problems, from both free speech and due process standpoints. The system initially… Read more

  • Anonymous Tips for ‘Bias’ at William and Mary? Yikes.

    November 2, 2007

    Check on John Leo’s “By The Way, Somebody Turned You In” over at Minding The Campus, regarding William and Mary’s anonymous bias reporting program: William and Mary’s new and anonymous bias reporting system is so wrong-headed that it’s hard to know where to begin protesting it. Some anonymous reports are legitimate, as Eugene Volokh argues… Read more

  • When the Truth is Too Outrageous to Parody

    July 24, 2007

    The following entry was authored by FIRE summer intern Braum Katz, a rising sophomore at the College of William and Mary. In my freshman year of college, I became involved with The Pillory, William and Mary’s only satire and humor magazine. As expected, our first staff meeting consisted of an obligatory discussion on standards of… Read more

  • William & Mary Apologizes for Censoring Dormitory Staff in Wake of Tragedy

    May 13, 2005

    In recent news, the College of William & Mary (W&M) has rescinded disciplinary actions against two dormitory housekeepers for talking to the press about the tragic suicides of two students in a campus fraternity house. The two workers had been quoted in the local paper as calling one of the students a “real joyful dude”… Read more