College Republicans claim infringement on student rights

Organization condemns recent U.Va. administration action


The College Republicans issued an open letter to the University community Tuesday regarding what the organization called “recent infringement on student self-governance by the U.Va. administration and local law enforcement.”

The statement referenced an April 4 request by University administrators to each Inter-Fraternity Council president mandating all fraternities to end pledging events by the following Saturday — several weeks before the pledging process was slated to end — due to hazing allegations and investigations into fraternity conduct.

The College Republicans said such a mandate is contrary to the University spirit of self-governance and specifically targets the Greek community.

“In addition to the inadequacy of time given to fraternities for compliance, which itself signifies a lack of consideration of the complexities of Greek planning, we believe that the ‘request’ itself contradicts the University’s cherished principle of student self-governance,” the statement said. “[The mandate also] reflects both the Administration’s mistrust and open hostility toward [the] University’s thriving Greek culture.”

The IFC Governing Board said in a statement Tuesday that it shared some of the frustrations voiced in the College Republicans’ statement.

“The IFC Governing Board understands that the actions taken by Dean Groves were deemed by administrators to be in the best interest of student safety,” the IFC statement said. “Similarly, the IFC values the safety of our members — our friends — as one of our highest priorities. However, punishing every fraternity for the actions of a few individuals wrongly implicates the entire system as perpetrators of hazing activities.” The IFC said it does not condone hazing in any way and that such behavior “reflects poorly on Greek life.”

The College Republicans said although the University has a right to investigate serious concerns, a general mandate infringes on student rights.

“The University has a right to investigate and take disciplinary action against a fraternity that has
engaged in unethical or illegal hazing practices,” the College Republicans said. “But a general order imposed on all fraternities is not a disciplinary action, but an act of micromanagement.”

Dean of Students Allen Groves said the mandate decision was made due to concerns for student safety and that he stands by the decision.

“In this case, I made a decision based upon concern for student safety — after meeting with fraternity leaders no less than three times this spring asking them to fix the problem … and I stand by that decision,” Groves said. “Most students have heard me speak very positively about the value I see in Greek membership and my strong support for the system at U.Va. However, I am quite firm in my opposition to pledging practices that put students at risk of harm.”

Groves said he respects the College Republicans’ right to have a differing opinion of his handling of the issue.

“We believe that the University administration has a duty to respect self-governance and the rights of all students,” their statement said. “It must pursue prudent disciplinary action guided by probable cause, not reckless intrusion guided by blind prejudice. If [these principles] are discarded, we fear … we will lose the proper combination of freedom and responsibility that has made [the University community] unique and prosperous.”

The IFC said it hopes to work with the University and the President’s Council of the IFC to develop an effective plan for the future. “[We] hope that the University administrators will return their trust to the students, and in the meantime will continue to work to make the system as safe as possible,” the IFC said.

related stories