Scott Tibbs
Hoosier Review
August 14th, 2004

Back to opinion page.

IU must not infringe on First Amendment rights.

----Original Message Follows----
From: Scott Tibbs <>
CC:,, State Representative Peggy Welch <>,State Representative Matt Pierce <>
Subject: Freedom of association at Indiana University
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2004 10:55:25 -0700 (PDT)

An open letter to IU President Adam Herbert, IU Chancellor Kenneth Gros-Louis, and IU Dean of Students Richard McKaig:

I encourage you to read this column by Dr. Mike Adams on freedom of association at UNC Chapel Hill. I find it unfortunate that a tax-funded university like UNC would violate students right to freedom of association.

As you know, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled four years ago that the state of New Jersey cannot force the Boy Scouts of America to accept homosexual scout leaders. Supporters of homosexual rights are free to found another scouting organization that is more "inclusive". As a state university, UNC Chapel Hill cannot restrict students First Amendment rights in this manner.

This is why I am writing you today. It is my understanding that Indiana University has a similar policy to UNC Chapel Hill. I have been told by sources within the College Republicans that they were forced to sign an agreement that they would not "discriminate" in their membership in order to remain a group recognized by the University. One Christian student group at IU group gave up their status as an official student group rather than rather than sign the "nondiscrimination" agreement which could force them to violate their principles.

I believe this policy must be repealed. First, as a tax-supported institution, Indiana University cannot infringe upon its students' First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. Second, a university is supposed to be a place where free speech rights are treasured. Political activity on college campus is as much a part of university life as classes are.

The policy itself defies logic. Why should a Republican group be required to admit Democrats, Greens or Libertarians? The purpose of the campus Republican club is to advance the ideals and candidates of the Republican Party. Forcing them to admit Democrats undermines this goal; and it works in reverse with the campus Democrat club. What about issue-advocacy organizations? Does it really make sense to require an anti-abortion group to admit pro-"choice" members, or vice versa? Should OUT be allowed to exclude someone who believes homosexual behavior is immoral?

If someone disagrees with the ideology of a campus group, they are free to form a group in opposition. I did this my senior year when I co-founded the Student Alliance for Responsible Research to oppose the Animal-Defense League's opposition to biomedical research in the Psychology Department. It would have been silly for the University to force the ADL to accept me as a member considering that I was openly opposed to their agenda.

There is also the issue of religious freedom. The United States of America exists in large part because people fled the religious persecution of England. Enforcing a state religion of "diversity" is no different than the Church of England forbidding religious practices different from their own.

Should religious groups tolerate differences? Certainly, but you must look at their perspective. Christians, for example, believe Jesus is the only way to reach Heaven, and those who do not accept Christ will be forever separated from the Father. To Christians, it is imperative to make sure people know this. Accepting members of other faiths (or of no faith at all) sends the message that there are other ways to reach Heaven other than by Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Christians believe there are eternal moral truths in the Bible. A Christian student group should not be forced to accept as members people who do not believe these truths any more than a church in Bloomington should be forced to accept as members people who oppose those truths.

I oppose the University's "nondiscrimination" policy as both an Indiana University alumnus and as a citizen of the state of Indiana. As a taxpayer, I object to a university using my tax dollars to infringe upon the Constitutional liberties of its students. As an IU alumnus, I believe a university must allow for (and indeed encourage) the free exchange of ideas. If Indiana University does not reverse this policy, I encourage the State Legislature to use the power of the purse strings to "persuade" IU to respect the First Amendment.