The student organization Students For Liberty (SFL) at Dixie State University gathered signatures on Tuesday for a petition in support of Phi Beta Pi, asking the school to change the student organization bylaws that prohibit officially recognized non-academic groups from using Greek letters in their names. SFL Vice President Jeff Peterson led the campaign and gathered over 200 student signatures in just a few hours, and SFL and Phi Beta Pi are continuing the petition online.
On Monday, FIRE exposed the conflicting and disingenuous statements Dixie State administrators have been making as to why the school is refusing to recognize the group, even after Phi Beta Pi President Indigo Klabanoff addressed and debunked trademark concerns. Dixie State Dean of Students Del Beatty has yet to clarify what exactly Phi Beta Pi needs to do to be recognized, and the date of Phi Beta Pi’s Community Women’s Career Conference is fast approaching. Unless Dixie State chooses to finally respect its students’ First Amendment rights to associate and identify their associations how they choose, Phi Beta Pi will be charged hundreds of dollars to host the conference on November 16.
In a conversation with FIRE, Peterson noted that the response from students he spoke with was overwhelmingly in favor of Phi Beta Pi’s recognition—only a handful of students declined to sign the petition. The most common response to Peterson’s explanation of the school’s refusal to recognize Phi Beta Pi, Peterson said, was simple: “Why?”
It’s a good question.
St. George newspaper The Spectrum reported yesterday that Dixie State public relations director Steve Johnson has reiterated statements from Beatty and Director of Student Involvement and Leadership Jordon Sharp, who have cited the resources required to implement a Greek system on campus as their latest rationale for refusing to let the club use Greek letters in its name. Sharp said that sororities and fraternities require “constant oversight.” But as Klabanoff told The Spectrum, she and Phi Beta Pi are not asking for a system—they are simply asking for their own club name.
Does Phi Beta Pi, so named, really require “constant oversight” and additional resources that the clubwouldn’t require if it were named something else?
Even after Klabanoff emailed Beatty, Sharp, and President Stephen Nadauld Tuesday evening with scans of the petition and signatures, Klabanoff has received only a brief message from Sharp that he will “put it in [his] file.”