Brown University Takes Step Toward Lifting Suspension, But Problems Remain
November 21, 2006
by Tara Sweeney
Since FIRE’s press release
last week on Brown’s suspension of the Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), the Christian Union wrote an excellent letter
to Brown, The Providence Journal
reported on the suspension, FIRE staff members have spoken about the case on numerous talk radio programs, and FIRE’s President Greg Lukianoff appeared on The O’Reilly Factor
to discuss Brown’s actions. Yesterday, Janet Cooper Nelson, the Director of Brown’s Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life (OCRL), sent a letter
to RUF President Ethan Wingfield outlining how the group could apply for re-affiliation for the spring semester.
While this letter is a step in the right direction, problems remain. First, and most troubling, is Cooper Nelson’s indication that her office will not reconsider the suspension before the spring semester, meaning that the RUF will have been suspended with no explanation for an entire semester. Second, Cooper Nelson requires that the RUF “communicate with full transparency” to the OCRL, but that is itself a vague requirement that the RUF believed it was fulfilling before it was suspended. Furthermore, this demand for “transparency” apparently does not extend to the OCRL itself, whose actions thus far have been anything but transparent. Third, the OCRL appears to be planning to hold the RUF to a different set of standards than it applies to other groups. Brown says that RUF is to hold “regular meetings” with OCRL staffers, “especially during the first semester of re-affiliation,” but RUF leaders report that other student groups hold only three meetings a year with OCRL staff members
FIRE will continue to advocate for the RUF until it receives the fair and equal treatment that other student groups freely enjoy and that all Brown students expect—and deserve.