About two weeks ago, in the scorching heat of student outrage over the housing policy revision, we reported on a letter sent to President Roth from FIRE.org—the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Most notably, the note criticized the controversial policy, expressing grace concern regarding “the threat to freedom of association posed by Wesleyan University’s new policy.”
This week, after Roth announced plans amending the policy’s “too broad” sweeping language, FIRE publishes an engaging overview of the month’s university actions and ensuing activism, concluding that the backtrack isn’t enough. The policy, which still declares Beta effectively “off-limits to undergraduates next semester,” remains an affront to the right to Freedom of Assembly guaranteed in the university’s Responsibility of the University to Its Members policy:
We’re glad that President Roth has begun to see the problems with the language as written. Unfortunately, even if the language is made less broad, there is still the fact that Wesleyan promises its students “freedom of assembly” in its “Responsibility of the University to Its Members” policy. It’s hard to see how Wesleyan will be able to reconcile its intense desire to forbid its students from being a member of the off-campus Beta Theta Pi (whether you call it a club, private society, fraternity, or what have you) with its promise to students to respect their freedom of assembly.
Accomplishing the goal of forcing Beta to choose between the jurisdiction of Wesleyan or total destruction may not be possible without giving the lie to Wesleyan’s own promise to its students that they will have basically the same rights that the Constitution guarantees to their fellow students across town at Middlesex Community College–who are, after all, free to associate or assemble with whomever they wish. We hope President Roth will consider this when revising Wesleyan’s new housing policy.