The following statement may be attributed to ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga:
"The ACLU of Virginia was invited by the College of William & Mary Alma Mater Productions to speak to students on Sept. 27 about their First Amendment rights, and, particularly, their rights at protests and demonstrations. We were pleased to accept the invitation and looked forward to making the presentation and answering questions on a wide range of topics. We were disappointed that we didn’t get the chance to provide the information that the students asked us to present nor to answer the tough questions we expected the student organizers and audience members to ask.
"The ACLU of Virginia supports unequivocally the freedom of professors, students and administrators to teach, learn, discuss and debate or to express ideas, opinions or feelings in classroom, public or private discourse.
"We also support the goals espoused by the demonstrators (ending white supremacy, achieving racial justice, elevating those who have been oppressed). It is more than disappointing, however, when the robust debate that should be the hallmark of the culture of inquiry on a college campus is disrupted by those who seek with their own voices or actions simply to silence others who took actions or hold views based on principles with which they disagree.
"The ACLU of Virginia has been and will continue to be unwavering in its commitment to campus free speech. We are equally committed to ensuring that all universities take appropriate steps to ensure that the environment on their campuses fosters tolerance and mutual respect among members of the campus community, and an environment in which all students can exercise their right to participate meaningfully in campus life without being subject to discrimination. To advance these values, we join the national ACLU in encouraging campus leaders to:
• "Speak out loudly and clearly against expressions of racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic speech, as well as other instances of discrimination against marginalized individuals or groups;
• "React promptly and firmly to counter acts of discriminatory harassment, intimidation, or invasion of privacy;
• "Create forums and workshops to raise awareness and promote dialogue on issues of race, ethnicity and religion, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation;
• "Intensify their efforts to ensure broad diversity among the student body, throughout the faculty, and within the college administration;
• "Vigilantly defend the equal rights of all speakers and all ideas to be heard, and promote a climate of robust and uninhibited dialogue and debate open to all views, no matter how controversial."