Amherst College is finally teaching its students about
individual liberty and the dangers of big government, although the
lessons aren't being taught in the classroom.
On Tuesday, Amherst announced a resolution banning all student
associations with "fraternity-like organizations" prompting
significant student pushback. The announcement came in the midst of
final exams, yet students have organized civil demonstrations
voicing their opposition to both the Trustees' decision and to how
that decision was reached. Students are collecting signatures and
handing out stickers that read "Student Life = Student Voice." Last
night, the fraternities parodied the new regulations set to take
effect in July with a 70s themed "Arts-n-Crafts social gathering"
complete with a live band, black lights, florescent paint, and an
open bar. Students have also hung pirate and 'Don't Tread on Me'
flags from their windows.
Amherst students-even staunch progressives-are getting a taste
of progressivism and it's not as sweet as their professors have led
them to believe. One vehemently liberal writer for the student
paper said, "this ruling doesn't sufficiently deal with the
problems of Amherst's culture. It's not just fraternities, it's not
just athletics teams, and to think about just one of those groups
is scapegoating and creating superficial change."
The ban came just a week after the college was designated under
investigation by the Obama administration for issues pertaining to
sexual violence; yet, the college claims the ban was instead a
response to suggestions made last year by the college's Sexual
Misconduct Oversight Committee. Either way, the decision scapegoats
fraternities even though they account for a mere 5 percent of the
To be clear: I'm not a member of a frat nor would I ever rush
one. In fact, I strongly believe there are legitimate and important
criticisms to be made about aspects of Greek life. But, that does
not mean students should be barred from Greek life much less
prevented from having a say in the decision to do so.
Suzanne Coffey, who previously served as the college's Athletic
Director, became the Chief Student Affairs Officer earlier this
year in a strange sequence of events of which students have yet to
receive a legitimate explanation. When asked about the decision to
exclude student input in her first big decision, she said, "I would
say back to the students, you're right, your voice wasn't
included…It's a fair criticism, but that's the way it is at this
Thomas Jefferson warned, "a government big enough to give you
everything you want is big enough to take away everything you
have." Those who would argue for a big centralized government
should take this as a cautionary tale. If a college administration
can tune out its students' voice on important matter, if it can
curtail its students' freedom of association, and if it can lay
blame for communal problems to a minority group, then imagine what a
big, unrestrained central government of the world's largest economy
and strongest military could do.
Robert Lucido is a conservative activist at Amherst College