Student Defends Fraternity, Blasts Speech Code in ‘Wesleyan Argus’

By on April 7, 2010

Student Mytheos Holt, writing in Wesleyan University’s student newspaper, The Wesleyan Argus, cites a recent campus-wide e-mail sent by Dean Michael Whaley asking students to avoid the Beta Theta Pi fraternity because the fraternity did not officially affiliate its chapter with the university. The administrator implied that somehow this must mean that the fraternity intended on violating school policy and local ordinances. But according to one recent news story, the fraternity actually

implemented a new policy requiring that an off-duty MPD officer oversee their parties in the future. The officer will be hired to patrol the door and walk through the main floor in order to prevent many of the problems mentioned in the e-mail.

Mytheos points out that the legitimacy of objecting to university policy really depends on which policy one is objecting to:

Here, there seems to be room for substantive disagreement over just how much of an evil is implicated, as it is not clear which policies Beta would object to following. This is an important distinction, because Public Safety is tasked with enforcing not just the law, but also the code of nonacademic conduct, which covers a much broader number of restrictions than the actual letter of Connecticut law. For instance, one drunken wolf whistle at the wrong girl from the courtyard of Beta could result in a citation for sexual harassment pursuant to the University’s policies on "sexual misconduct."

Mytheos goes on to cite FIRE’s research on Wesleyan’s speech codes:

The section on "Harassment and Abuse" is even more horrendously vague, having been singled out by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education as a "red light" speech code. To be expected to adhere to these policies, and to have them enforced by a private security force with no constitutional protections due to the privacy of said security force, is understandably frightening, especially in an institution which the University has gone out of its way to cast as out of step with the rest of the campus.

Thanks to Mytheos for his timely writing.

 

Schools: Wesleyan University