The Wisconsin Law Students for Reproductive Justice had planned an event called “Sex Toys 101” to promote safe alternatives to sex, educate about sexual health and pleasure, and discuss law concerning sex toys, according to the group.So the question is whether the event was canceled because it violated some neutral rule about selling things. As for the posters, though, surely the law school is allowed to forbid plastering images of penises on our walls.
Members of the organization submitted a formal complaint to Law School Dean Ken Davis Friday, requesting a formal apology, refund of event expenses and clarification of student organization event rules.
In an interview Monday, Law School Associate Dean Walter Dickey said the event was canceled for content-neutral reasons, pointing to a Student Organization Office policy that prohibits the promotion or sale of commercial products by a private company...
In their complaint sent Friday, however, the students contend even after they told Law School administrators the event did not involve any sales or promotions, Dickey indicated the event should be canceled.
“Dean Dickey’s response was that it did not matter whether it was a sale or not, there were to be ‘no sex toys on law school premises,’” the group said, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by The Badger Herald....
Organizers also took issue with the removal of their posters advertising the event within the halls of the Law School. The posters advertised sex toys as trivia contest prizes, included bondage references and said the event was to be “presented by A Woman’s Touch.”
“We believe they were taken down because some people found them offensive,” [said the student who chairs he Wisconsin Law Students for Reproductive Justice Chair.] “If some people did find them offensive, that’s one thing, but to go around ripping them down we don’t feel is the proper way to go about the situation.”
ADDED: I'm looking at the letter the Law School dean, Kenneth B. Davis, sent to the student, which makes some important assertions of fact:
[T]he only previous formal communication from your group had proposed an event at which the vendor’s products would be sold. Your subsequent internal correspondence, which you attached to your complaint, reveals after reviewing the University’s guidelines as recommended by Dean Robarts, you proposed telling the vendor that it could feature its products (rather than sell them) and get good PR from the event. However, those guidelines prohibit not only sales, but the use of University facilities “to promote or endorse commercial products or businesses.”So, note, that the official position is not that you can't post pictures of dildos — which I am calling depictions of penises — around the law school. It's that you can't post pictures of commercial products you're promoting or selling.
Because the posters advertising the event named the vendor and pictured specific products, Dean Dickey deemed them inappropriate. He ordered that the posters, many of which had been hung in unauthorized locations, be removed. He also determined that because it was inappropriate to sell, promote, or advertise the vendor’s products on Law School premises, the event should be canceled, and Dean Robarts then undertook to notify the students to that effect.
When the students responded that no sales had been planned, Dean Dickey determined that the event could go ahead so long as it did not involve the sale or promotion of commercial products. That important distinction may not have been communicated to all the students as unambiguously or on as timely a basis as we might have desired. For that, the Law School administration bears the responsibility.
Given that background, I will honor your request for reimbursement for the food and beverages you purchased. I cannot, however, use Law School funds to repay you for the merchandise you had intended to give away.