We have a message for you from the Wes Student Body about today’s rally, but first I have an editorial/introduction. Roth published a blog post yesterday, conceding overreach, but without resolving the issue at all. In fact, his statement is contradictory. He wrote, “Many students appear to see this as a threat to their freedom, and I want to be sensitive to that. The university has no interest in regulating the social lives of our students when they are away from campus, and the language we used suggests otherwise. We will change the language.” This is a good acknowledgement of the issue and appears to be a retraction of the earlier policy. However, he goes on to add, “I want to be as clear as possible: if the Beta Fraternity does not join with the other Greek fraternities and societies, it will be off-limits to undergraduates next semester. Students who violate this rule will face significant disciplinary action, including suspension…It is an attempt to minimize unsafe conditions adjacent to campus.” In other words, he sees the issue, but is not backing down from the policy. His contention that it is for our safety is not supported.
The Administration has been quick to highly publicize any questionable activity at Beta, but ducks the larger issues of extreme intoxication and sexual assault on campus. Yes, there have been incidents of sexual assault at Beta, but there is no proof whatsoever that it is any more dangerous than any other part of campus. Beta, at their request, is monitored by the police during every party. Does Roth truly think Public Safety can stop “unsafe conditions” that the Middletown Police Department? The Administration is using the very real issue of sexual violence as a weapon in their crusade to regulate campus life. And that is the real issue: the campaign against Beta is about control, not about “unsafe conditions.” Let’s face it, Beta is unpopular on campus. The Administration was counting on this to get the student body to go along with the policy. Ceding this ground opens the door for further encroachment on students’ rights. If we don’t make a stand here, when will we?
Roth’s blog post mentions that the trustee dinner will “[celebrate] recent campus activism, such as efforts to combat sexual violence on campus, to confront housing and poverty issues in Middletown, to promote flood relief in Pakistan, and to create educational opportunities and free health care in Kenya.” He goes on to point out several other activist causes on campus, suggesting that these issues are what we should be protesting. Let’s note that these are all “safe” forms of protest, the comfortable boundary of “liberal” protest that can be pointed as a sign of an engaged student body on admissions materials and in the media. If we’re discussing major activist causes on campus, why not talk about the major protest last semester over insurance for university employees? The answer is, it doesn’t make the school look good. What appears to be an innocuous statement about a engaged student body is a quite insidious insinuation about the Administration’s vision for the student body. This vision sees the student body as being “concerned, aware, and passionate about social justice” while being complacent about the Administration’s actions. In their attempt to garner students concerned with social issues, they’ve ended up with a student body who see issues in campus life, not just in the larger world.
Personally, I’m not much of an activist. I’m just someone who saw his rights being trod on and said enough. There are some things a man can’t ride around. I’ve been in contact with other members of Wesleyan Students for Freedom and the WSA. We’re all in agreement. This issue isn’t over yet. The protest is on for tonight, 7 PM, outside Beckham Hall. Show Roth that this great institution belongs just as much to the students as it does to the Administration.
Well, that was longer than I expected. Here’s the original notice:
On February 14th, you received an all-campus email noting a revision to the University’s residency policy. This revision, while intended to primarily affect Beta Fraternity House, used extremely broad language that gave the University a great degree of control over what students could do off-campus. This change was also issued unilaterally without any student input and no use of the usual appropriate channels of student-vetting in the WSA and elsewhere.
Although President Roth recently apologized and promised to revise the policy in a blog post, he has avoided the underlying issue that is this administration’s continued abuses of student rights and freedoms in its ever-consolidating quest for unquestionable control of this campus. President Roth’s apology is not enough. His promise to revise the residency policy is not enough. President Roth and his administration must understand that the students are still, and will continue to be, a major power at this school. They must understand that this patronizing attitude is not acceptable. They must understand that the student voice will be heard.
In order to make this clear, there will be a rally on Friday, February 25th, at 7pm outside Beckham Hall. Please make an effort to attend. We need to show the administration that there is united student opposition to not only this policy, but also the general trend of top-down patronizing governance. Bring some friends, make some signs, have a good time, and get the message across at the same time.