Va. college leaders weigh in on discrimination
After Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell issued a directive reaffirming that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not allowed in the state workforce, college leaders lost no time clearing the air on their own campuses.
For anyone who has been off-planet, Virginia's attorney general stirred things up on the state's public college campuses by advising the collegiate community last week that they did not have a right to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
College students mobilized across the state. The protest would have reached a much higher pitch had most of the colleges not been on spring break, a bit of timing that some students contend was intentional on the part of AG Ken Cuccinelli II.
McDonnell's statement Wednesday seemed tailored to restore the peace. It also seems to have made him something of a hero to the academy.
University of Virginia President John Casteen wrote:
"Impasses of the kind that the Governor's Executive Directive resolves occur from time to time. They are not commonplace, but of course neither is the combination of wisdom and bravery embedded in the Governor's directive. . . This directive's eloquence and clarity set it apart from many policy statements that come from all sorts of sources. Perhaps needless to say, I am personally grateful to the Governor for it. This had become an uncommonly troubling issue, one that cuts to the core of our common claims to the most fundamental kinds of personal security under the rule of law. Discussion will undoubtedly continue, as it should in a free society that thrives on open discourse. But as rightly alarmed as many of us and I myself were by last week's Attorney General's letter, I was struck through the week by the wisdom and dignity of the discussion that occurred. Let us hope that the subsequent discussion will rise to the level of the model struck in the directive."
William & Mary president Taylor Reveley didn't wait for the governor, and sorted things out at his own institution with a letter issued Tuesday. He wrote:
"For now, let's be clear that William & Mary neither discriminates against people nor tolerates discrimination on our campus. Those of us at W&M insist that members of our campus community be people of integrity who have both the capacity to meet their responsibilities to the university and the willingness to engage others with civility and respect. We do not insist, however, that members of our community possess any other particular characteristics, whether denominated in race, religion, nationality, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other of the myriad personal characteristics that differentiate human beings. We certainly do not discriminate against people on such grounds, or tolerate discrimination against them. This is the way we live our lives together at William & Mary, because we believe this is the way we should live our lives together. This is not going to change."
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Daniel de Vise
March 11, 2010; 2:56 PM ET
Categories: Administration , Labor , Public policy , Publics | Tags: U-Va., William & Mary, discrimination
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