Wesleyan University’s administration seems to have decided that letting students spend any time off campus is an awful idea. The campus-centric blog Wesleying posts the text of an e-mail recently sent out to students (emphases theirs):
I write to notify you of a revision to Wesleyan’s residency requirement designed to clarify the University’s rules concerning off-campus housing. In brief: beginning Fall 2011, Wesleyan students will be prohibited from residing in — or using for social activities — houses or property owned, leased or operated by private societies that are not recognized by the University. You can find the revised policy online at http://www.wesleyan.edu/studenthandbook/residency.html
Students found to be in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary measures by the University, including suspension.
President Roth asked for this policy revision to address the problematic issue of having residential organizations that appear to function as Wesleyan entities yet have no Wesleyan oversight. DKE, Psi U, and Alpha Delt are recognized as part of program housing and are thus not affected by this change. This revised policy would, however, have major consequences for Beta which has chosen to not participate in program housing and is therefore not recognized by the University.
We are continuing our discussions with the members of Beta and their alumni about joining program housing, and remain hopeful that they will choose to do so. Such a choice would result in University recognition and avoid the scenario of students being prohibited from residing in Beta or using it for social activities.
This revised policy won’t affect the great majority of you as you consider your housing options for the 2011-2012 academic year, but President Roth and I agreed that it was important to call your attention to the revision – and its potential ramifications.
Dean Mike Whaley Vice President for Student Affairs
As the campus paper, the Wesleyan Argus, explains, this policy was obviously put in place in order to pressure the one non-university affiliated fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, into affiliation and all the legalistic bells and whistles it entails. Never mind that a strict reading of the policy above would ban them not only from congregating at the frat house, but also from going to a professor’s house for dinner. This has already touched off a backlash even among the usually anti-frat student body, as evinced by this opinion piece:
“Wesleyan students are prohibited from using houses or property owned, leased or operated by private societies that are not recognized by the University. This prohibition includes using such houses or property as residences, taking meals at such houses or property and participating in social activities at such houses or property.”
This paragraph is a sweeping, massive overreach that heavily infringes on the personal freedoms and responsibilities of all students. Rather than setting guidelines for conduct, it places a global ban on all students from setting foot on property owned by private societies. As Dean Mike Whaley adds in his email, “Students found to be in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary measures by the University, including suspension.”
Yes, you read that correctly. The administration is threatening punishments, all the way up to the level of suspension, for so much as visiting a private property. The implication of this policy is that it dismisses the agency of all students, making decisions for us on where we can and cannot freely associate.
If the Administration has an issue with the activities of Beta House, it should present its evidence and allow students to decide for themselves. Wesleyan University is not a pre-school, it is a university of adults who can reason for themselves and make their own life decisions.
Fight the power, Wesleyan students.