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USF must judge fraternity members as individuals

Currently, there is an investigation into a rape that allegedly occurred at a party sponsored by Phi Delta Theta fraternity at the University of South Florida.

Phi Delta Theta was suspended because of the incident. It filled me with indignation to see a whole fraternity being blamed for the actions of a few individuals. However, my ire was appeased by the explanation that the risk management policy of Phi Delta Theta had been violated at the party and because of that violation, the rape occurred. If that is the case, then there are legitimate grounds for holding the entire fraternity responsible for what happened.

However, as a result of that incident, I _ along with many other innocent individuals _ have been ordered to attend a rape seminar given by the university police. Why? Because I am in a fraternity _ not Phi Delt.

I am an individual. I choose my actions, and therefore I assume responsibility for the consequences. I also have a voice in the actions that my fraternity takes, and therefore I assume responsibility for actions taken by individuals in behalf of the fraternity to the extent that I influence those actions.

I had no voice in nor even knowledge of what happened at the Phi Delt party, and therefore I will accept no responsibility.

To the USF authorities responsible for this mandate I say: If you do not possess the intelligence or wish to expend the effort necessary to judge people as individuals, but instead feel compelled to employ a mentality that judges others in collectives such as "blacks," "Jews," "Hispanics," "Greeks," then you need to look out your window and realize that you are not in a jungle or in Hitler's Germany or in Lenin's Russia. You are in the United States of America: the only country founded on the principle of individual rights. Notice I used the word "principle." This is something that, judging by your behavior, I do not expect you to understand.

A principle is a fundamental, primary or general truth on which other truths depend. In this case, the specific moral principle which is involved is: "No one has the right to initiate the use of brute force against another human being."

I know that raping a woman is wrong because it is a form of initiating the use of brute force, i.e., forcing her to have sexual intercourse against her will. For the same reason, I know that you are wrong in ordering me to attend a rape seminar, i.e., forcing me to do so against my will. If I were to concede that you have the right to force me to go to the rape seminar, then I would be unable to find any objective reason to believe that raping a woman is wrong.

The degree of force being employed in the two cases is different, but the principle is the same. When deciding whether to kill someone, one does not ask, "Is it right to kill 30 people with a chain saw?" or "Is it right to kill one person with a gun?"; one asks "Is it right to kill?" The degree or seriousness of an action is irrelevant to whether it is right or wrong. Stealing $10 is wrong for the same reason that stealing $10-million is wrong. If one were okay, then the other would be okay.

When the alleged rape victim came forward and protested the violation of her rights, many people praised her for her courage. By the reaction of those people to the same protest uttered by another individual, i.e., me, it will be apparent whether they act on principle like civilized human beings or on the whim of the moment like savages or animals. A great thinker once said, "Only fundamental principles, rationally validated, clearly understood and voluntarily accepted, can create a desirable kind of unity among men." If the USF authorities continue to act in an unprincipled manner, than, by virtue of their example, rapes and other such acts of savagery are all that they deserve to expect.

The "Greeks" who are unable to attend the meeting must have a written excuse approved by the Greek adviser at USF. This is my written notice on why I will not attend the rape seminar. Whether it is approved or not is none of my concern. I do not ask thugs for approval to not comply with their demands, whether they be for my wallet, my life, or my time.

Fernando Javier Villamar is a student at the University of South Florida.

Anyone interested in submitting a guest column for Community Times should contact Paul Wilborn at 1000 N Ashley Drive, Suite 700, Tampa, FL 33602.

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