Deep Thoughts With Wendy Brenner

Posted: Dec 05, 2003 12:00 AM

Dear Jonathan Garthwaite:

Thank you for forwarding the letter you recently received from creative writing Professor Wendy Brenner, accusing me of publishing “several factual errors” in a recent editorial that “gravely and explicitly misrepresent” the nature of the conflict between the College Republicans (CRs) and the administration of UNC-Wilmington.

In her letter, Professor Brenner, a member of the Student Organization Committee (SOC) that de-recognized the CRs, first takes issue with the title of my recent editorial-“College Republicans Banned From Campus.” Brenner says that her committee specifically told the CRs that they could still do some things on campus despite being de-recognized. One of her examples was “post flyers on campus.” Another was “even set up a booth at the campus Involvement Carnival.” My goodness, what more could you want! This was despite telling the CRs that they had “lost all (emphasis mine) rights and privileges of a registered student organization” and that their funds had been frozen.

Please note that this communication made no mention of exceptions such as “flyer posting” and “booth setting.” Brenner’s argument reminds me of those made by white racists in the South who argued that blacks should stop complaining about sitting in the back of bus. Those people should just be glad that they get to ride on the bus! Clearly, Brenner thinks that the CRs weren’t denied citizenship. They’re just second-class citizens and that’s not so bad

Brenner also complains about a hypothetical I used in my recent editorial. The hypothetical speculated on the absurd results that could flow from making all portions of the non-discrimination clause binding on all groups with no exceptions. Brenner concluded that this hypothetical contained “factual error” because it ridiculed the idea of making fraternities and sororities admit members of the opposite sex. She notes that the university handbook specifically creates an exception for fraternities and sororities.

I hope that you will take the time to inform the professor of the inherent deficiencies in the argument that a hypothetical was “not factual.” Hypotheticals are, by definition, “not factual.” While you are explaining that to the professor, I’ll write one of her editors to complain that some of her creative writings are “not factual” but “fictional.”

Brenner seems wholly unaware that by raising the issue of fraternities and sororities she walked right into a trap that I intentionally set. She admitted that exceptions to the anti-discrimination clause are sometimes made. But they will not make a similar exception for the CRs. Making exceptions for some groups and not for others is called discrimination. And that is the very thing you set out to eliminate. Remember, professor?

I noticed that Brenner’s letter also dubbed another of my hypotheticals as “factually incorrect.” This hypothetical dealt with the issue of hostile takeovers of student groups resulting from rigid adherence to all aspects of the non-discrimination clause. In rebutting my hypothetical, Brenner asserted that one role of the SOC is to “help students word their constitutions so as to protect themselves from takeovers by cabals of Democrats or any other ‘opponent’ group.”

Since Brenner insists on arguing with me through you, perhaps you could get her to answer the following question, which you could then forward to me: Is it better to, a) force students to allow opponents to join their group, while helping them to craft policies that deny these opponents leadership positions, deny them the right to vote, as well as procedures for kicking them out of the group, or, b) just let the groups keep their opponents from joining in the first place.

I really think that tenured professors and administrators could be spending their time in more productive ways. Maybe it’s just the billion-dollar state budget deficit that makes me so cynical.

But, interestingly, professor Brenner says that I need to “teach (the CRs) about the wisdom of choosing (their) battles.” She says that instead of publishing “inflammatory misinformation” and abrogating my “ethical responsibility” to provide them with “correct information” (read: no more of those lousy hypotheticals, Dr. Adams!) I could convince them to “register new voters on campus, recruit volunteers to work for the local Republican party, educate the public about what the party stands for, or any number of productive activities.” I’m not trying to control your group, but I wish you would just sign the papers and then go do the things that I think you should be doing.

It is worth noting that until recently the CRs were doing all of those things. That is, until the university revoked their status as an official group and froze their funds. But the CRs think that the right to have some control over their group is guaranteed by the First Amendment.  And that is important to these kids, regardless of the views of the administration.

Brenner closed her letter with the bland assertion that the CRs are “fighting for the right to discriminate.”  It should be obvious by now that these students are the victims of discrimination. And their assertion that the university is being hypocritical is no mere hypothetical.

In conclusion, this may be the most creative writing Professor Brenner has ever produced.  And yet it is still mindless drivel.

Mike S. Adams ( enjoys getting in the last word.