Smoking Gun at Washington State

September 1, 2005

Freedom of Information Act requests can be wonderful things. Several weeks ago, Washington State University student Chris Lee—the victim of a heckler’s veto at WSU when protestors disrupted the performance of his play, Passion of the Musical—made a formal request under state law for all university documents relating to the incident. Hidden within the 400 pages produced by the university was the smoking gun, the document that proves without a doubt that university officials not only paid for protestors to attend the play (something that we have known for some time), but they also helped plan the disruption.

Rich Kelley, the director of WSU’s Office of Campus Involvement said in an internal e-mail that “Kelly and Brenda” (OCI employees) met with the protestors before play. Although Kelley says there “was never any discussion about an organized protest, etc.,” he goes on to say that “individual students would stand and say ‘I’m offended’ if they indeed felt offended.” In other words, the shouts that interrupted the performance of the play were planned and orchestrated by the Office of Campus Involvement.

WSU is now without excuse. University employees not only paid for the protestors’ tickets, they helped plan the protestors’ unlawful actions. Individual university employees have violated Chris Lee’s clearly established constitutional rights, and they should be held to account.

Schools:  Washington State University