In 1789, France’s National Assembly adopted “The Declaration of the Rights of Man.” It declared “all men are born free and equal” and that life, liberty, and property were to be protected. But as the Revolution unfolded, its leaders thought it wise to create the Committee on Public Safety. The committee guillotined dissenters and “enemies of the state.” For a time, French citizens lived in perpetual fear.
Fast forward to 2000. The trustees’ Task Force on Residence Life presents its report to the Board, recommending the creation of “equitable residential and social opportunities for all students.”
Furthermore, it declares that the system devised to achieve these principles should be implemented “clearly and equitably.” All was right in the world. Only selfish, shortsighted, and uncompetitive Lawrentians lived in perpetual fear.
What do the French Revolution and the Report of the Task Force on Residence Life have in common? They were both founded on beautiful principles of fairness and equality. They both bore hideous spawn.
Sometime following the community effort to fundamentally improve campus life at Lawrence, the Residence Life office hijacked FGH and drove it straight into the ground.
The smoldering wreckage that was the Taskforce’s recommendation for Formal Group Housing leaves students at the mercy of an unaccountable, inconsistent, insulting, and disastrous campus menace. In principle and practice, the FGH Selection and Review Board fails to meet the Task Force’s recommendations to empower students.
The Task Force wanted “LUCC [to] be charged with selecting [nine student members] to serve on the FGHRB and devising an open process for their selection.” What we got were two unelected groups (the FGHRB and the Residence Life Committee) selecting all student members.
Residence Life sends two students directly to the board. LUCC itself sends a slate of eight, from which the FGHRB cherry-picks four. The board picks the other three from among the members of houses not up for renewal. The board is administered by Deans Uecke and Truesdell.
Even FGH’s paltry offering to the shrine of student participation was bumbled by our illustrious former LUCC president, Chris Worman. If you were lucky enough to be sitting behind him on the right day in Anthropology class you got to participate in what managed to pass for an “open” selection process.
Not only did 99 percent of the student body not have a snowball’s chance in hell of participating, but LUCC never heard nor approved of the students he selected.
Dean Uecke might be immune from criticism if Worman’s selections had actually appeared to meet the membership requirement she helped create.
* The policy required the LUCC slate be eight students. Uecke got six.
* The policy called for a class balance. Five of the six were freshmen.
* The policy required at large members not be affiliated with group applying for housing. Two of the six were.
Whether conspiracy or carelessness, Worman and Uecke managed to corrupt an already gutted selection process by abandoning openness, LUCC input, and the policy’s own pathetic membership stipulations.
Unfortunately, it gets worse. Last year, every existing fraternity and the co-op house received a voting member on the board. If this fox-guarding-the-henhouse approach is to become campus-wide doctrine, I know a few D students who would love to work in the registrar’s office.
Whichever student, professor, or staff person was responsible for this FGH policy decision should be fired or expelled. It’s pure lunacy. Does it come as a surprise to anyone that every fraternity and the co-op received a house? If so, send your resumes to Residence Life (c/o Dean Uecke).
Not since the Reign of Terror have principles of Fairness and Equity been implemented so poorly. Actually, that’s not being very fair to the Reign of Terror.
Thankfully, on March 11, LUCC overwhelmingly condemned FGH while supporting housing fairness and equity. The administration should take note and immediately work with LUCC to develop a long-term housing policy which maintains a reasonable number of lottery small houses, is not insulting to the student body, ceases to institutionalize the fraternity’s lock on housing, and halts the administration’s social engineering agenda.
For my final article, I want to explore these problems and offer my own solution for addressing the campus’s need for long-term group housing-all without putting Fairness and Equity to the guillotine.