By Nick DAngelo
“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” These were the words penned by Thomas Paine on Dec. 23, 1776, just days before the Battle of Trenton. An attempt to bolster morale among patriot rebels, the pamphlet “American Crisis” in which the line was published, hit the central chord of the Revolution’s purpose.
In my essay “College Incorporated,” written for the Union Book last spring, I wrote that the moral right of the student body is to maintain and guard its own liberty as a necessary check-and-balance to the college administration. And here we are, less than six months later, exercising that very necessary action of ensuring honesty in government.
The sanctions against the brothers of Delta Kappa Epsilon sparked a small rebellion on campus last week, with student and administration authorities alike offering insight and view points on the two opposing sides. But what is central to the defense is the issue of fairness. While campus housing may be an afforded privilege to us students, justice is a right. The question of justice and the importance of transparency in government is the very essence of this issue.
Without hesitation, and to their strong credit, the brothers of Delta Kappa Epsilon took responsibility for their one violation. Yet an erroneous punishment ensued for a crime that the brothers deny, with the original support of the Campus Safety officials present at the time. In the defense of heightening the sanctions, written by the administration last week after the firestorm erupted, officials noted that the normal judicial process of a student led hearing was circumvented because of the enormity of the accusations against the fraternity. But that enormity was a creation of the administration itself. One cannot merely ignore initial reports from those on the scene, rewrite history and refer to it as justice.
Furthermore, there is still a bigger problem in all of this. Following the questionable judicial process, assertions began that the administration weaseled through protocol in order to further a political agenda. Of course, this is an assertion that is vehemently denied. But here are the two possible reasons for the outcome, and neither of them put the administration in a very good light. Either the administration, in attempt to further a political agenda, quietly avoided transparency in the process, or it is an administration so out of touch and disconnected from those that it governs that it is incapable of understanding why the lack of transparency would be a problem. As of the writing of this article, the Board of Trustees has not issued a public statement on the matter. But for days the administration has back-peddled in an attempt to defend their actions in the face of rising public discontent. After first suggesting a quid pro quo agreement with another Greek organization, the administration has apparently “heard the message” being sent. Over the coming weeks we will see if that is, in fact, true.
The students of Union should be proud. In less than one week, we took a matter from the backrooms of Reamer’s fourth floor, to the front page of the Concordiensis, to the agenda of the Board of Trustees. Our united effort alone may ensure fairness in government. This will not be an isolated, one-time occasion. Our diligent involvement is a civic responsibility, and one that we must embrace as the governed.