Daniel Watts: Letter to the Editor

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Editor,

  Your May 11th editorial foolishly called on the university to prevent Greek students from receiving campus-sponsored scholarships because fraternities and sororities discriminate on the basis of sex. Your call to action is unconstitutional at a public university like UC San Diego. The First Amendment prohibits state actors like UCSD from punishing a student based on the people or groups that a student associates with. Just like the university can’t revoke scholarships from members of the Guardian or the Koala, it can’t withhold scholarships from students who choose to join a fraternity or sorority. Students are allowed to join discriminatory groups, and the university cannot punish them for it in any way, not even by withholding scholarship eligibility. The course of action you recommended is literally against the law — and for good reason. If the university had the power to withhold scholarships from students in blacklisted clubs, fewer students would join ANY clubs, since any club with any membership criteria could eventually end up on the blacklist. By your standards, all Mormon or Catholic students would be barred from scholarship eligibility since they joined groups with sex-discriminatory policies: Only males can hold the priesthood in either church.

  This was the second editorial in a row where the Guardian demonstrates a callous misunderstanding of how free speech works in the United States. The same First Amendment that allows the Guardian to ask the school to do unconstitutional things also prevents UCSD from punishing students who join unpopular groups.

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