EDITORIAL: Students Outraged at Forced Resignations
by Bachelor Editorial Board
November 20, 2008
Editor's Note: For many weeks the Bachelor staff has
worked diligently to cover the stories related to the death of Johnny
Smith. We have attempted to ascertain how the student body felt about
the culture of alcohol on campus and the Mandatory Chapel Talk; we’ve
printed letters to the editor from angry alums, students and faculty;
and we’ve closely reported on all of the decisions made in the aftermath
of the tragedy at the Delt house. In our news coverage, we have
attempted to get to the truth and have endeavored to uphold the
journalist’s gold standard of neutrality.
In our editorials, we have also endeavored for balance - outlining
the differences in opinion between the administration and the student
body. While others quickly chastised the Administration for closing the
Delt house, we held our judgment; we wanted to give them the benefit of
the doubt as not all the facts were known.
In the case of the forcing out Delt students from leadership
positions, the editorial staff felt strongly enough to take the odd
journalistic step of placing the staff editorial on the front page. We
feel the prominence of the editorial reflects the level of concern the
student body has towards the Administration’s most recent actions.
We hope that our message - the message of the student voice of Wabash
- is made very clear in this editorial and would call on the
Administration to quickly redress the grievances of the students.
With such a diverse population of very different beliefs, backgrounds
and political ideologies, it is rare that the Wabash student body speaks
Tuesday night was an exception. At the regular Student Senate meeting in
the Goodrich Room of the Lilly Library, Chairman Pro-Tempore Sean
Clerget ’09 introduced a resolution to the Student Senate questioning
the involvement of the administration in student-run clubs and
organizations. The resolution noted that “it has come to light that
administrators coerced members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity to
resign leadership positions in clubs of the Student Senate” and that
“the administrators of Wabash College must explain their actions and
cease and desist from interfering with the right of students of Wabash
College to select the leaders of their student organizations.”
The resolution was passed by a unanimous voice vote - no objection from
any Senator was noted. The Bachelor applauds the efforts of Mr. Clerget
and the Student Senate and joins in their call for an explanation.
Rumors have been swirling for a while, and some things need to be set
straight at the beginning. It should be made clear that all Delts have
not been forced to quit leadership positions carte blanche – many are
still in positions of leadership in other campus organizations. That
fact, however, should not distract from the fact that forcing those few
who were forced to resign to give up their positions necessitates at
least a clear explanation.
While it may be understandable the administration take the action it did
regarding the closure of the Delt house, we fail to see the connection
between that incident and student organizations. Where does student
leadership in non-fraternity related organizations connect with their
ongoing investigation into the fraternity? If they have been accused of
ungentlemanly behavior or charged with anything, how can students accept
the administration’s meddling in student organizations?
Furthermore, why is a leadership position in a Student Senate
organization consequential in the eyes of the administration? They
certainly don’t have the grave level of responsibility of a Fraternity
President or a Residential Assistant. They aren’t elected by students at
large like the President and Vice President of the Student Body.
They are duly elected by the members of their respective groups. Barring
clear ungentlemanly behavior or disapproval of their membership, they
should remain in these positions for the duration of their term.
The resolution brings up an interesting point regarding student
leadership selection for Senate funded organizations. In 2007, the
Senate passed the Student Organization Leadership Act (SOLA) in response
to alumni meddling in the leadership of a Senate sponsored group.
Student representatives affirmed their resolve for independence when it
comes to the selection of our leaders. Even pressure for resignation
from an outside force violates the spirit of the act. The Senate is firm
in this resolve.
Although many students disagree, one can at least understand the
position of the administration regarding the closure of the Delt house,
and even understand the reason why the information regarding the closure
could not be made public. Forcing student leaders to resign from their
positions doesn’t follow any semblance of logic.
Many students continue to have deep feelings of mistrust and anger. Club
members have privately expressed their disillusionment, outrage and
bewilderment towards a coerced exit of those that they selected as their
leaders. The administration should take serious note of the unusual
action the Senate has taken, and heed their call.
For the past few weeks, the student body and the College at large have
been encouraged to examine their actions and admit mistakes they have
The administration should not be above admitting their own.