Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA, recently told their students they couldn’t pass out flyers supporting Glenn Youngkin (pictured below), the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia.
Lillian Gillepsie, the president of the school’s College Republicans, said the following in response to the anti-conservative crackdown: “I was shocked when I found out that we couldn’t disseminate campaign materials on campus. I hope that publicizing this story gives students on both sides of the aisle more agency and liberty.”
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) explained that the school told students they couldn’t advocate for people actively running for office. FIRE also said that the “administrator incorrectly blames the university’s tax-exempt status to justify the censorship.”
FIRE has called on the university to change its decision and clarify that political groups should be able to…get political.
In September, the College Republicans set up a booth at the school’s activities fair, and since the November 2 election for Youngkin is fast approaching, they set out flyers in his support. The Director of Student Affairs Kelsey Goodwin made the group remove all material endorsing a political candidate because the school is on tax-exempt status, and thus cannot support political candidates.
But that doesn’t mean Washington and Lee University students can’t support candidates as individuals. FIRE wrote a letter to the school explaining students speak for themselves
FIRE Program Analyst Sabrina Conza fired back at the university, asking “what is the purpose of College Republicans or College Democrats organizations if they can’t actually advocate for a Republican or a Democrat?”
“Goodwin is wrong in her assessment of the law, and the university is wrong to remain silent after censoring students who want to take part in the political process” she continued. “Now they must make it right.”