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Washington & Lee University students are not allowed to distribute flyers for Republican Glenn Youngkin

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Students at Washington & Lee University in Virginia are not allowed to distribute flyers for Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin

  • Republicans displayed campaign materials in support of Glenn Youngkin during an annual mass at Washington & Lee University College
  • But the club has been told by student activities director Kelsey Goodwin that her ad is against college guidelines and that all promotional materials will be removed
  • Goodwin said that because the university is a tax-exempt organization, the school cannot support political figures
  • While the university itself cannot endorse a candidate, the school’s students are free to do so as they speak for themselves and not the school they attend
  • Student freedom of expression does not affect the university’s tax exemption, so there is no reason to prevent students from distributing campaign flyers
  • College Republicans backed Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, who is now related to his opponent Terry McAuliffe

Republican students at Washington & Lee University in Virginia are banned from showing campaign material in support of GOP government candidate Glenn Youngkin because they claim lobbying a politician is against the private university’s policies and threatens their tax-exempt status.

Education reported during an annual event fair at the Liberal Arts School in Lexington on 12th.

But shortly afterwards the members of the club were told from Kelsey Goodwin, director of student activities, that their report violated the guidelines of the private university and that they had to remove any material advocating political candidates.

The college Republicans tried to win support for Youngkin. who was 47 percent to 42 percent behind Democrat Terry McAuliffe in August, but now the race is 46 percent, according to the latest survey by the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

College Republicans President Lillian Gillespie (pictured) has argued that students should be able to stand up for a candidate

College Republicans backed Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, who is now related to his opponent Terry McAuliffe

College Republicans backed Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, who is now related to his opponent Terry McAuliffe

The school had told Republican students that they couldn’t hang up the flyers because the private university was a tax-exempt organization that couldn’t support political figures.

But Sabrina Conza of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a student rights organization, said Gillespie hasn’t broken any rules and wants the university to rectify the situation.

“What is the purpose of college Republican or college Democrat organizations if they can’t really stand up for a Republican or a Democrat?” said Conza, who is a program analyst for FIRE. “Goodwin is wrong in its assessment of the law, and the university has been wrong to remain silent after censoring students who want to participate in the political process. Now they have to do it right. ‘

Students were told by Student Activities Director Kelsey Goodwin (pictured) that their exhibit was against college guidelines

Students were told by Student Activities Director Kelsey Goodwin (pictured) that their exhibit was against college guidelines

While Washington and Lee University (pictured) cannot endorse a candidate themselves, students at the school are free to do so as they speak for themselves, not the school they attend

While Washington and Lee University (pictured) cannot endorse a candidate themselves, students at the school are free to do so as they speak for themselves, not the school they attend

According to FIRE, while the university cannot endorse a candidate, the school’s students are free to vote for their choice as they speak for themselves and not for the school they attend.

FIRE added that student freedom of expression does not affect the university’s tax-exempt status, so there is no reason to discourage Republican students from distributing or displaying campaign material for political candidates.

“I was shocked to find out we couldn’t distribute campaign materials on campus,” said Gillespie. “I hope that the publication of this story gives the students on both sides of the aisle more freedom of action and freedom.”

The university met with Gillespie on September 30 and October 18, informing her that the college has always had a policy against student organizations distributing materials in support of political candidates and referred Gillespie to lawyers at the university on legal issues.

During the October meeting, the university stood firm and informed the students that they were not allowed to stand up for their preferred candidate.

Following the incident, Goodwin emailed both Gillespie and College Democrats President Judy Park an email with guidelines for campus political activities.

The guidelines stated that “for student political organizations (College Republicans, Young Democrats, etc.) at such an event – particularly one attended by a candidate for political office – that the purpose of the event is educational, not endorsement (or rejection) of a candidate by the university. ‘

Gillespie responded to the university with an email saying it was “absurd that the actions and opinions of a small minority of students engaged in politics and political activities could be construed as representing the beliefs represent the university as a whole ”.

FIRE said they reached out to the University of Virginia on Sept. 23 to raise concerns about restricting students’ political expression, but no one at the university has responded so far.

The Virginia governor’s race has tightened despite Joe Biden winning the state with nearly 10 points on his presidential run. However, Biden’s approval ratings have dropped from 52 percent in his election to 43 percent of Commonwealth voters.

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