Report from a Hive of Scum and Villainy

Tonight, I braved the wilds of Beta for the first time to attend the WSA meeting tonight. Contrary to what I’ve heard, the house didn’t appear to be as dangerous as say, an active war zone. What followed was a 2 hour discussion on the Residency Policy, Public Safety, and miscommunication.

In the absence of President Roth, the WSA took up a lengthy discussion on the Residency Policy. From this, several points of information emerged. The Executive Committee of the WSA met with Roth last week to issue 3 points of concern with the policy. 1: The policy was implemented top-down, with no student input. 2: The policy as written places massive restrictions on students’ rights 3: The University has no right to decide where students can live.

According to the WSA President, Micah Feiring ’11, Roth conceded the first two issues and promised revisions. While there have been no official revisions announced, it appears that the Administration will make these changes. However, the main issue behind this debate has not been resolved. The WSA ended up passing a resolution opposing the policy, with several key issues emerging during the discussion.

Beta’s issue of concern with rejoining the University has to deal with Public Safety. As a member of Beta pointed out, DKE  is currently on probation due to an incident in which Public Safety entered the property in violation of policy (I didn’t take notes on the meeting, so anyone with precise information about this incident, please write in the comments). Beta members explained that they do not want Public Safety to have the authority to enter their house because of its arbitrary and capricious violations of its own policies in entering houses.

The Beta members at the meeting expressed their willingness to come on-campus if separate guidelines are created to deal with the unique circumstances of Greek organizations as opposed to program houses (at the moment, the guidelines covering frats like Psi U are the same ones governing Light House) and if there is a way to hold Public Safety accountable to its own policies.

In this spirit, the WSA voted to form a task force to deal with concerns regarding Public Safety and to create a system for accountability when it violates its own policies.  Plans are also in the works between the Greek organizations (and Eclectic) to create an Inter-Greek Council, similar to those found at many other universities to promote the common interests of these organizations.

A major concern at the meeting was the manipulative use of sexual assault in the Administration’s campaign against Beta. According to the SART intern, Eliza Gordon, between 5 and 6 sexual assaults are reported on campus each year, although the vast majority of sexual assaults go unreported. The email from Public Safety about sexual assault at Beta last fall was apparent sparked by three reports of assault in one weekend. It was apparently sent to students in keeping with alerting students about dangerous events on campus. However, given the lack of alerts about other sexual assaults on campus and the context of the Administration’s feud with Beta, this justification can be looked upon as capricious at best and highly suspect at worst. What is clear is that sexual assault is being unethically used as a manipulative tool in this debate.

During the meeting, the white elephant in the room was the non-attendance of President Roth. Throughout the last two weeks, the Administration has dodged directly responding to the concerns about the policy. In talking with the national press, David Pesci, the director of media relations, lied about the new policy, claiming that regulations are not being changed. Roth posted an entry on his blog, acknowledging overreach. The Argus took this up as an announcement of a change to the policy. However, the blog is merely a soapbox; it is binding in no way. There has not been an official announcement or email to students concerning the policy since the official announcement two weeks ago. In refusing to attend the WSA meeting tonight, Roth provided no explanation.

If this issue is to be resolved amicably, Roth and the Administration will have to openly respond to students’ concerns. The best venue for this is a public forum where any students can voice their concerns and raise questions regarding the Administration’s actions in regards to this policy. In closing, I’ll point out that this is not a fringe issue regarding a few students. Over 500 students have signed on to a petition calling for the policy to be repealed. The student body is demanding answers. The administration must provide them.

PS: I know this is more like serious journalism than Wesleying usually covers, but given the fast moving nature of this issue, this was the quickest way to keep the student body informed.

PS 2: If anyone finds a factual error or omission in this article, respond in the comments and I’ll deal with it ASAP.

PS 4: If anyone from the administration, faculty, or staff wants to respond to this, send me an email at lesanjuan(at)gmail(dot)com. I’ll post your comments anonymously  if you wish.

22 thoughts on “Report from a Hive of Scum and Villainy

  1. differentkid12

    It seems to me that you guys are the only people bringing up sexual assault. To my knowledge Roth hasn’t mentioned it in connection to Beta. Nevertheless, the point is that the administration sees the fact that they cannot enter Beta in order to make sure students are safe as a problem. They’ve been talking about it for a year, trying to make it so that it was no longer a problem. At any juncture, the WSA or the “Wesleyan Student Body” could have had a public forum to discus the problem or talk to the semi-legally responsible University about why they didn’t feel that it was a problem. Didn’t happen. Eventually, since students showed themselves unwilling to talk to the administration about the issue without simply spouting silly catchphrases about paternalism, Roth took the unequivocal route. Maybe that wasn’t the right way to do it, maybe it would have come to that anyway. But don’t pretend that the University hasn’t been responding to what they see as a legitimate problem and trying to deal with it for over a year.

    1. WSA Member

      The meeting last night was SUPPOSED to be a public forum. We held a meeting about the policy two weeks ago as well. Furthermore, we DID talk to the University, and President Roth about stuff. The Argus covered it and anyone who follows our blog or the Argus would know about it. We’ve been talking to the university for a while so get your facts straight.

      1. differentkid12

        You’re right. Correction: “a solution which calmed the administration’s fears about safety was not reached.” The point was that the anti-Beta policy had been coming for awhile now. The University made very clear what it needed to see safety-wise, and it didn’t end up getting that concession. The majority of the public student response, including from WSA President Feiring, denounced the safety warnings that led to the policy as politically motivated.

        If you or Beta was in a constructive discussion with the administration about the ways to effectively regulate fraternities and the announcement was put out in the midst of that, I could understand the outrage. By all reports, however, the Beta alumni had said that PSafe would not be allowed entry to the house no matter what. They’re free to say that. But when they do, it seems the administration response was pretty predictable.

  2. alum

    Great post – but realize that the current Beta members have no authority on whether they join program housing or not. The house is owned by the Beta Alumni Committee, so it will be them who decide in the end.

    1. Another WSA Member

      really? i didn’t see too many. don’t use your wsa title as a way to try and discredit the poster. instead, you could offer some corrections to these factual errors you seem overwhelmed by.

  3. weskid'12

    Please stop calling this journalism. While the post is informative, it is clearly biased and you offer advice to Roth on how he could resolve the issue “amicably”.

    1. Lesanjuan

      I didn’t say this was journalism; I wrote that it was more like journalism than what we usually publish. While the post does take a clear stance, it mainly reports on what happened at the WSA meeting. It’s more like editorial-journalism, like Nikki Finke at deadline.com.

      1. The rest of the student body

        Keeping us “informed.” Nice. You report, we decide. Please, in the future, never say that you or anyone who is protesting with you represent the “Wesleyan Student Body.” You represent, at most, the five hundred people who signed your petition. The other twelve hundred of us don’t care and want you to go away.

    1. Lesanjuan

      He offered no explanation in his email to the WSA (all he said was that he was unable to attend, if I recall correctly). Perhaps a WSA member who has his email could provide more information.

  4. 2012

    “serious journalism”? oh yes this issue is SO serious. especially compared to things wesleyan activists used to care about, like racism and nuclear power and divesting our endowment funds from weapons contractors.

    1. Lesanjuan

      Just because we’re protesting this issue doesn’t mean we don’t care about other things. If you honestly think we shouldn’t care about this, please explain why. If you want to write an editorial explaining your reasoning, please do so.

    2. Lesanjuan

      Just because we’re protesting this issue doesn’t mean we don’t care about other things. If you honestly think we shouldn’t care about this, please explain why. If you want to write an editorial explaining your reasoning, please do so.

    3. 2011

      since when do you get to decide what is a serious issue and what isn’t? also, wesleyan still protests the “serious” issues you seem so concerned over. in case you missed that, they’re also posted a few posts below by wesleying. you and roth can go ahead and talk about what’s worth protesting and what’s not. meanwhile, students rights are indeed being violated in and outside of beta theta pi, and we have a chance to change that.

    4. anon

      Activism in one arena does not preclude similar activity in another. It’s totally fair to identify higher priorities, but that in no way gives you the right to denigrate the efforts of concerned and legitimately active students simply because your own interests lie elsewhere. If you actually cared about the issues you mentioned, you might consider agitating for reform or fostering discussion instead of decrying another cause, which while comparatively trivial in the grand scheme of things, is extremely pertinent to current Wesleyan students.

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