Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Guest post about the social club policy by Professor Richard Thomas

For now I would just associate myself with Daniel Gilbert's post. While I appreciate the time colleagues and staff members on the USGSO have put into the process, I find myself in complete disagreement with this recommendation, and consider David Haig's dissent the only reasonable response to the matter. By the Statutes of the University this issue belongs with the FAS faculty, and the attempt to finesse that reality is to be resisted in the most vigorous ways. Otherwise, why bother turning up to faculty meetings, standing for Faculty Council, doing anything but teach, advise students and write. If this maneuver works, I'll certainly save myself the monthly 2 hours.
More importantly the notion that we would forbid students from joining clubs that are not involved in illegal activities is odious. I hold no brief for these off-campus (they are) Final Clubs, but the idea that we would dismiss a student for belonging to them is repugnant and a moment's reflection about recent and less recent history would back that up. I also don't see why fraternities and sororities should be effectively banned. What harm do they do beyond taking students away from the Houses and (soon) the Smith Center?
The trumpeting of the cases of Bowdoin and Williams–fine colleges–is not encouraging. Is that what we aspire to be? Are their locations, size, complexity, truly comparable? I also gather the reality of the Williams situation may have been slightly misrepresented. 
Finally, there may be a student death tomorrow that may be connected somehow to one of these Clubs. So far I think those have happened mostly in the Houses. If that happens it will be tragic but would not change anything. The very possibility seems to have become a weapon in the arsenal of those who want this policy to happen. I think we should all resist this sort of sophistry.
Richard F. Thomas, George Martin Lane Professor of the Classics
(cross posted with permission from the FAS Wiki)

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