William & Mary President Threatens Discipline For Protesters Who Shut Down Speakers

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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Protesters who prevented speakers from making remarks in September at the College of William & Mary in Virginia will be disciplined, the president of the college said in a Thursday email.

“We value and protect the right to protest in [certain] forms,” said Taylor Reveley, the college president. “Emphatically not among them, however, is preventing an invited speaker from making her remarks and then preventing her from engaging in informal dialogue with members of the audience.”

Reveley made the statement to the school’s community in an email obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The president’s comments came after student protesters shouted down a speaker from the American Civil Liberties Union in September. (RELATED: Black Lives Matter Students Crash Free Speech Event, Call Liberalism ‘White Supremacy’)

“Refusing even to hear ideas with which we disagree does nothing to sharpen our own capacity to combat them in a cogent, convincing fashion,” explained the president. “I do not believe it is an effective way to push toward needed change. And it is very unlikely to persuade those with whom we disagree to consider the possibility that they might be mistaken.”

Reveley referenced specific clauses in William & Mary’s code of conduct, including ones forbidding “alarming” or “intimidating” behavior, conduct that violates the rights of others, and “disrupting or obstructing” university events.

The school’s statement of rights and responsibilities grants community members “the right to hear and study unpopular and controversial views on intellectual and public issues,” Reveley said.

“Such violations have disciplinary consequences,” he said. “With sanctions running up to and including suspension or dismissal from the university, depending on the scope and severity of an individual’s actions and prior disciplinary record.”

TheDCNF reached out to the school’s Young Democrats chapter for comment, but received none in time for press.

“We applaud President Reveley for standing up for ideological diversity and for student organizations that invite speakers to campus,” Phoebe M. Brannock, chair of William & Mary’s College Republicans chapter, said to TheDCNF. “We hope that the College will take disciplinary action against individuals who intimidate others and prevent them from speaking their minds.”

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