URI College Republicans, Still Recognized

From Randal Edgar of the Projo

The University of Rhode Island Student Senate last night backed away from asking the College Republican club to apologize for advertising a “White Heterosexual American Male” scholarship, but the club is being asked to send clarification letters to the 40 people who applied.
The letters are to explain something that many Senate members felt was not clear in the one-time ad that ran in the collage newspaper last fall — that there was no scholarship and that the ad was meant to be a satirical statement on affirmative action.
The outcome followed nearly two hours of debate by the Senate, which occasionally discussed the matter directly with Ryan Bilodeau, the Republican club’s chairman.
Bilodeau, who made a formal address to the Senate and continued to insist that the club was not willing to apologize, said afterward that the Senate decision was a good way to put the matter to rest.
“We have said all along that we were willing to compromise,” he said. “The only thing we will not do is apologize.”
At least one student senator reveals that more debate, more speech, and yes, more satire will be necessary to drive home the point the College Republicans were trying to make…
Some Senate members opposed the bill, saying it let the Republican club off too easy and ignored a violation of Senate bylaws forbidding student organizations from discriminating or impeding equal opportunity based on race, color, gender, sexual orientation, national origin and other “non-merit” factors.
“I am personally offended by your event, not your ideology,” Senate member Cristin Langworthy told Bilodeau. “You’re not making a progressive statement, you’re discriminating.”

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17 years ago

Unfortunately for the august members of the URI Student Senate, the United States Constitution takes precedence over the Student Senate interpretation of its’ organizational by-laws.
The nerve of that James Madison!

17 years ago

Anthony is right.
I was pleased to be able to attend the meeting. It should be noted, by the way, that all of the URI Student Senators were more thoughtful, courteous and mature in their conduct at this meeting than many of their (supposedly more adult) counterparts on city and town councils around the state.
However, some of the Senators continued to labor under certain misapprehensions, including 1.) that the scholarship was genuine and 2.) that this was not a matter of freedom of speech. It was stated, for example, that satire could only occur in certain contexts – during a comedian’s performance was cited as one such – and that, therefore, the scholarship and its ad did not qualify as satire.
While the description of the scholarship is offensive at first blush, it is difficult to continue taking it seriously after one learns the amount of the scholarship. It strikes me that this was a critical indicator as to the nature of the “scholarship”. But its significance was not fully … appreciated by all of the Senators.
I’ll stop analyzing satire and humor now, thank heavens, and just say that while it seems to me no sanction was required, the Student Senate demonstrated some good sense in backing away from what was a initially a completely untenable position.

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