Scott Tibbs
Indiana Daily Student,
September 28th, 2004

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Get your rights right

To the editor:

The editorial in the September 21 Indiana Daily Student presented an incorrect interpretation of the First Amendment. Christina Galoozis correctly pointed out in her dissent that tax-supported universities are bound by the First Amendment (as well as the rest of the Bill of Rights) and cannot deny students their rights.

This is an important case to watch for Indiana University students, as the administration implemented a similar policy here. One Christian student group declined recognition by the university on principle rather than sign a pledge that forces them to accept anyone. Fortunately, the administration saw the error of their ways. Dean of Students Richard McKaig said that it was not the intention to include religious groups in this policy, and the university officially recognizes the group in question once again.

But IU should never have implemented this policy in the first place. The Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the state of New Jersey could not force the Boy Scouts to accept everyone, because freedom of association necessarily includes the freedom not to associate. Should IU require IU Students for Life to accept someone who supports abortion rights? Should OUT be required to admit someone who is openly "homophobic"? Of course not.

Many student groups already accept all students. The IU College Republicans' constitution has said the CR's are open to all students since it was ratified in 1997. But that is not a decision for the university administration to make.

If a tax-supported university implements a policy to restrict the Constitutional rights of its students, the state legislature should use the power of the purse strings to "persuade" that university to respect the Constitution.

Scott Tibbs
1998 Indiana University alumnus