800 Students Sign Poll

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800 Students Sign Poll


William and Mary students sign an opinion poll concerning integration.


800 Students Sign Poll

Approximately 800 students signed a statement of interest concerning the College's admissions policy which has been circulating around campus for about a week. In signing, the students expressed the opinion that the College should never consider the race, color or creed of an individual in its admission policy.

Initiated by Val Simms, Jerry Van Vocrhis and Bill Thatch, the signatures, along with cover statement, were presented to President Paschall this morning.

The completed opinion poll was forwarded to the President under a statement reading as follows: "We, the undersigned, believe that admission to the College of William and Mary should be granted solely on the basis of academic excellence and personal character with no regard to the race, color or creed of the applicant."

According to Thatch, the poll reached about 1800 students. "Those who declined to sign gave as their principal reason that they felt it would do no real good," Thatch commented. The statement of interest failed to reach the rest of the College community because the initiators did not have sufficient time to organize. The cover statement, enlarging upon the purpose, intent and method of the circular, was written by Bonnie Barr, Val Simms and Jerry Van Vocrhis. It was written in order to insure that the communication be received in the proper perspective.

On Integration

Today a list of approximately 8oo student signatures was forwarded to the President of the College appearing under the following statement of belief:”...that admission to the College of William and Mary should be granted solely on the basis of academic excellence and personal character with no regard to the race, color, or creed of the applicant.” The signatures were obtained as an opinion poll to show the willingness of the signees to accept any student, anytime, on the basis of his good character and mind. (See story page 1)

This, in contrast to the tragedy of Oxford, the circus at Greenwood, and the debacle in Birmingham, speaks highly of William and Mary students. Other happenings related to students in Williamsburg have demonstrated a similarly responsible and rational approach to the matter of race relations.

Thus, we feel that students here have stayed within the canons of good taste, honesty and fairness. Aside from most students there seem, however, to be two lines of thought existing on the matter of how to prepare for integration— which, in years to come, will inevitably be a common fact at all institutions of higher learning. One way is characterized by a lack of classroom and other discussion on the matter, with the words negro, colored, and black becoming taboo to a certain extent. The other way is to promote classroom lectures, sensible discussion and study of the matter. We would posit that the second is far superior to the first, and that administrators and faculty members here tend to, in most circumstances, favor the first method. This, we hope, will shift.

It deserves to be re-emphasized that the opinion poll, or this editorial, is not intended as criticism of the admissions policy of the College; we have no indications whatsoever that any race discrimination has been practiced. That which we would criticize is the method of preparing for integration.

The Flat Hat takes this opportunity to express its acceptance of any student without regard to race, color, or creed simply on the basis of his good character and good mind.


Swem Special Collections


May 10, 1963
William and Mary Flat Hat Volume 52, Number 27


William and Mary Flat Hat


May 10, 1963


Hannah Freeman, metadata and transcription




Swem Special Collections, “800 Students Sign Poll,” The Lemon Project, accessed July 4, 2020, https://lemonlab.wm.edu/items/show/155.

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