Bret Hrbek

hrbek@politicalusa.com

 

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The University's Invisible Heavy Hand
11/2/2000
PoliticalUSA.com
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One of the last bastions of socialism must be America's college campus. 

Whether it's the college professors who preach the vision of Marx or the
heavy-handed administrators ruling with an iron fist, today's universities
seem to reject the ideas of liberty and have replaced them with oppression.
Forgotten are the days of Jefferson's college where learning to think for
oneself and exercise one's rights was the hallmark of higher education. Now
college administrators act with supreme power as if they where kings
selected through divine intervention.

Public universities throughout America have tried to strip away the
constitutional rights of their students to free expression and thought.
Watch the news and you will see Christian students and other religious group
members, conservative students and other liberty-loving students all
persecuted because they do not conform to the socialist mentality of those
who sit in the ivory towers of academia. 

Ask almost any member of the Greek Community and they can tell you that the
college administrators sacrifice the individual rights of their students for
some higher "greater good of the university community." They know.
Overzealous administrators and their ideological allies target Greeks all
the time.

My most recent encounter with the Socialist Beast occurred in the quiet
college community in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. James Madison
University, ironically a college named after the father of our Constitution,
has recently succumbed to the forces of political correctness and jumped on
the bandwagon of curtailing the individual rights of their students to
freedom of thought, expression and association.

With their institutional invisible hand, JMU-an agency of the
government-guided members of the Greek community to develop a
"Fraternity/Sorority Community Development Plan." (The administration has
dropped the use of Greek Life as not to offend JMU's ethnically Greek
students and for the sake of inclusion of the non-Greek letter fraternities.
That's a whole different story.) This plan segregates the student
population and places restrictions on members of fraternities and sororities
solely because they are members of a fraternity or sorority.

The plan would require higher minimum GPAs different from other groups or
individuals on the campus. The university would invade the private
residences of its students by dictating risk management and alcohol
policies. The state would dictate membership criteria for these private
organizations. And my personal favorite: the state would require mandatory
volunteer service. (I hope I'm not the only one to see the contradiction.)

Yes, these are noble goals. Everyone wants to eliminate hazing, alcohol
abuse and encourage character growth. And the university can-on its own
property and equally upon the student population. But when the rules change
for one group of students just because they belong to a Greek organization,
the state has violated those students' individual rights and has
discriminated against them.

All to often, university administrators and faculty view students and their
groups as guests on their campuses. This is not so. As a state agency, the
students attending that institution have a right to associate with whom they
please. They have a right to form organizations and to determine the
membership criteria and policies of those organizations. If they decide to
join organizations with national affiliations, those national organizations
can dictate the criteria and mission.

Remember, the school has no rights. Fraternities and sororities have no
rights. Rights only exist at the individual level. And the university does
not have a right to infringe on the sovereignty of a fraternity or sorority
no more than they can force the College Republicans to offer membership to
Democrats.

The university can set standards for groups to be recognized by the school.
But those standards and rules must apply to all groups equally. And those
standards cannot dictate the organization's mission, membership criteria or
activities. 

As for special privileges for Greeks, end them. Just as universities should
not persecute students because they join a Greek organization, they should
not give them special perks. Why should a non-Greek student pay the salary
of Greek Life staff, which doesn't serve them?

It's time that college students stand up for their rights. The universities
won't protect them. The Supreme Court doesn't even seem willing to protect
them. I guess students will have to do it themselves. I hope the students
at JMU will send a message to America and be the first to stop their school
from violating their individual rights.

Author's Note: Although I am a member of the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity Board
of Directors and Chapter Advisor for the JMU Chapter, my opinions do not
necessarily reflect the position of ZBT or any of its affiliates or members.

Bret Hrbek, 2000

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