Student Coalition throws a fit

Eric Seymour

Newborn children are a source of fascination for nearly all people. We watch with interest as they learn about the world and their place in it. We share in their glee as they speak first words, and take first steps. But at some point, a helpless child turns into a human with an independent will, and decides to loudly express it with no regard to anything outside of her own little world. It is then that the period of fascination is over.

Just like a newborn baby, the Student Coalition has been born, and found its place in campus politics. They've affected many lives in ways sometimes widely publicized, sometimes not. Now nearly a year old, the Coalition has thrown its first major temper tantrum in regard to the Zeta Beta Tau scavenger hunt incident. When the Coalition protested a Mexican-theme party last semester at Phi Delta Theta, many were left wondering what their reaction would be if real evidence came forward of racism in action at a fraternity. Thanks to ZBT, now we know.

In case you've been locked in a padded cell for the past week, or are connecting to this web site from Easter Island, here's the background: Wednesday, October 15, nine ZBT "pledges" were arrested for stealing a street sign. Upon apprehension, police found a scavenger hunt list including sexually and racially-charged items. Having established those key facts, let me say that I fully condemn the latent racism and sexism evident in the insensitivity of the list. Still, there are many reasons to question to reaction of the Student Coalition, and to carefully examine the possible implications of this entire event.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the situation is how the Coalition has set itself up as some sort of high court of diversity at I.U., able to hand down summary judgement to any person or group violating their tenets. Evidence for this is ample, especially in their open letter to Dean Richard McKaig. In that letter, they demand of the Dean that he expel ZBT from campus, and also publicly apologize for being less zealous about this issue than the Coalition. They come to the conclusion that they have all the information they need, and no further investigation (i.e., no investigation at all) is needed before evicting 120 students from their home. This seems more like Salem in the 1600's than Bloomington in the 1990's.

Those who advocate "diversity" are usually quick to suggest education as the means to overcome prejudice. Using these standards, the proper way to deal with this situation would be to punish those arrested for whatever crimes they are convicted of by the law, and to educate the others about accepting all races, genders, and ethnicities. Instead, the Coalition has grouped the entire fraternity together as worthy of the highest available punishment. Mercy is nowhere to be seen among the angry mobs organized against ZBT. When ZBT president Jason Nierman pled "I beg you to give us a chance," accusers responded with statements such as "We need to make you an example." I wonder how many of the Coalition's members would respond in the same way to a death-row inmate?

Eric Seymour

Robert Schiener