The decision made by Darren Morton, associate dean of student development, to remove the table that Tau Kappa Epsilon often uses in the University Center is absolutely absurd.
“If we say a group is suspended,” Morton said, “then we believe that the table needs to be removed or the room needs to be reconfigured so that we don’t give the impression that the group still has the same rights and privileges that every other group in the room has.”
The same rights? The right to eat lunch at the same table? The right to speak at the same table? The right to be in the same vicinity as your fraternity brothers? What rights? Besides, the table that TKE likes to call their own is not even technically theirs.
“The tables [do not] belong to them,” Morton said, “but we know that most people associate the tables with a group and if we say that an organization is no longer a functioning group on campus but leave the tables there, to me sends a mixed message.”
So if the table is not actually theirs, if it is just a table that most people associate with TKE, then how is removing the table from the cafeteria a reasonable punishment? What if TKE were to congregate in Marillac, for example? Would they lose their table there, too?
Morton insists, “It’s not to punish the group. It’s just a matter that if we’re going to be consistent, we have to be consistent in everything we follow through.”
What it amounts to is a petty “screw you” from St. John’s. It’s removing a table that the administration knows that TKE uses. It’s punishing an organization that is guilty of a vague, “overarching behavorial kind of issue,” as Morton said, and handing it an illegitimate, undiplomatic, immature penalty.
This is not even to mention the fact that, for one, the original reason for TKE’s suspension was an altercation with members of the lacrosse team. As Kurt Osterman, the president of TKE, pointed out in an appeals letter written to Dr. Jose Rodriguez, the associate vice president for student affairs/ dean of students, “members of the lacrosse team deemed responsible were punished as individuals but not the entire team.”
So why suspend TKE as an organization? Suspend the individuals. TKE did not get into a fight, individuals did.
Then TKE was punished after a couple of their fraternity brothers threw a party. TKE reaped no financial benefits from the party, and the two students that hosted it were over 21 years old.
So what does TKE have to do with that? Why is that worthy of a suspension?
Suspend the individuals. Punish them as far as the student handbook allows. But don’t take away their lunch table.
Don’t be ridiculous.