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V. Adoption, Amendment, and Interpretation of this Document

This document shall be adopted and may be amended when:

A.  Accepted by a majority vote of those students who vote in a referendum.

B.  Accepted by a majority vote of the combined faculties of the College who vote in a referendum.

C.  Accepted by a majority vote of the administration of the College who vote in a referendum.

D.  Approved by the President of the College and the Board of Visitors. Nothing in this document shall affect the powers of the Board of Visitors as provided by law.


Interpretation Procedure

On September 24, 1974, President Graves issued a clarifying statement concerning the interpreting mechanism for the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and his memorandum of that date is an addendum to that Statement:

"The President of the College, by virtue of his responsibility to implement and administer the policies established by the Board of Visitors, is responsible for implementing the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

The normal tasks of implementation are the responsibility of various offices of the College ‘who administer its affairs.'  These offices, whose policies and practices have been brought into conformance with the Statement, ‘have a special responsibility to ensure that . . . the rights of all members of the College community are preserved.'

There are, however, instances in which the Statement must undergo occasional interpretation in the process of its continuing implementation as a document.

In the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, it is the responsibility of the President or an ‘appropriate College authority designated by him' to determine when an exception to a specific section of the Statement should be made. The Statement also provides that members of the College community ‘should enjoy the same fundamental rights and privileges...except in those rare cases where . . . the rights or privileges...would be in conflict...with the goals and purposes of the College as an institution of higher education.'

Although the Statement does not indicate who, other than the President, the arbitrating authority should be for exceptions, or who should interpret the Statement when there is a difference of opinion among members of the College community or between individuals and the institution, the clear implication in both cases is that it should be the President or ‘an appropriate College authority designated by him.'

Therefore, I believe that it is desirable for us to proceed ahead along the lines suggested above.  If and when relevant questions or issues are raised in connection with the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, such questions or issues should be brought to the attention of the President's Office as they occur.  I shall take responsibility, depending on the nature and substance of a case, for determining whether I or another administrative officer, whom I would designate, should handle the case.  Whoever is given that authority shall take responsibility for consulting with those whom he believes appropriate, depending on the circumstances, before reaching a decision."

On May 2, 1990, Dr. Paul R. Verkuil, President of the College, issued the following interpretation of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities:

The Statement of Rights and Responsibilities guarantees to members of the university community the "right in his or her dealing with the institution and with members of the College community in the performance of their official duties to nondiscriminatory treatment."  It further states that "each member of the College community has the right to organize his or her own personal life and behavior insofar as it does not violate local, state, or federal law, College regulations or agreement voluntarily entered into and does not interfere with the rights of others."  It is my determination that these words express a right to privacy which extends not only to nondiscriminatory treatment in areas specified by federal law but to nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation as well.  The student code of conduct already ensures nondiscriminatory treatment without regard to sexual orientation.

In accordance with the resolution of the Faculty Assembly, I am directing that official publications of the university include specific reference to this topic in any enumeration of William and Mary's nondiscrimination policies.  It is also my interpretation that faculty, staff and administration should be extended the same assurances against discrimination based upon sexual orientation as the student body itself.  This interpretation will be made a part of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

On May 1, 1996, Dr. Timothy Sullivan, President of the College, issued the following clarification of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities:

Under the Sections I.A. and I.B., each member of the College community has the right to be free from all forms of discriminatory treatment as guaranteed by law.  Accordingly, the enumeration of specifically protected treatment should be understood to include disability, Vietnam veteran status, and all other categories ensured by the Commonwealth and by federal law.  For faculty, failure to comply with federal and state non-discrimination laws and policies shall be handled in accordance with provisions in the Faculty Handbook, including the procedural guarantees therein outlined.  Students alleging failure to comply with federal and state non-discrimination laws and policies shall contact the Dean of Students or the Vice-President for Student Affairs.