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We all know that the right wing of the Republican Party is beholden to crazy, religious zealots who do not care about the true message of Jesus Christ, a message of peace, love, brotherhood, charity, and non-violence. Instead, they care about dividing people, suppressing rights, forcing religious establishment, and persecuting individuals for how they were born. This is a dangerous philosophy.

I thought that this persecution was confined to our federal government and local school boards trying to misinform Americans about how life was created on this planet based on scientific evidence. It is not. Instead, persecution has extended right here to Georgetown's campus. Here are some recent examples:

1) H*yas for Choice do not receive any funding or recognition from the university and they are routinely persecuted by the university for speaking freely on university property or organizing small events on campus.

2) Georgetown administrators recently removed links to reproductive health centers from the Women's Resource Center website.

3) Earlier this year, there was a large-scale effort by the Cardinal Newman Society to ban the Vagina Monologues from being performed here at GU.

4) Speakers like Senator Dick Durbin, who spoke to College Dems last night, are not allowed to speak at university events because of their pro-choice views (speakers under the vespices of other organizations or schools within the university are allowed to speak if they hold pro-choice views, but not at university-sponsored events like commencement).

These policies and events are downright unAmerican, undemocratic, unacademic, and fundamentally contrary to Jesuit and Catholic philosophy. We are told from the moment we enter Georgetown that Jesuit philosophy is inclusive (we don't have Greek life for this reason), believes in the education of the whole person (promoting political debate by giving all sides of every issue an equal voice), strives for academic excellence (which can't be fulfilled until people can express their views freely), and believing in a vigorous pluralism (which must be characterized by a variety of political, moral, and religious views, including those that are pro-choice). These actions on the part of the administration represent a virulent effort by the university and outside groups to suppress free speech and expression.

The university does not ban pro-death penalty groups from speaking on campus and expressing their views, even though the death penalty is expressly against the Catholic Church's views (it is murder in their eyes, just like abortion). The university funds and supports Right to Life, a pro-life group. It's funny that a group with no opposition needs funding and recognition in a debate with only their side. These policies are extreme and inhibit Georgetown's own free speech and expression policy. The College Democrats is an organization that affirms the ideals and values of the Democratic Party of the United States of America, a party that expressly supports in its platform that a woman has an uninhibited right to choose any set of reproductive services they want, including abortion. College Democrats is the largest group on campus and we will not soon be silenced. We will begin a campaign against these policies and challenge the university to adhere to the American, Jesuit, and Catholic ideals of free expression.

4 comments:

William O. Douglas said...

Adam, you bring up fair points about viewpoint discrimination at Georgetown. However, to be honest, Georgetown is a Catholic institution, and that gives them a fair bit of leeway. The Catholic Church is against abortion, and Georgetown has the right to move abortion links from their website. Since Georgetown is not affiliated with the government, it is under no obligation to be content-neutral in its treatment of speech. I say this as a matter of law as well as a matter of principle. The university can, as an institution, take a particular viewpoint, and remove speech contrary to that viewpoint from its official website.

As to your comments about the suppression of H*yas for Choice, there the university acts with far less legitimacy. It would not hurt the university's Catholic identity to allow speech in a certain part of campus. That the university seemingly seeks to stamp out even that morsel of public dissent is truly unfortunate.

I say all this as a pro-choice, liberal Democrat. For me, the key difference between the website and Red Square is that the website represents the university on an official level, while Red Square should be open to all viewpoints. The removal of the web links does not actively inhibit speech (the university can regulate its own website as much as you can regulate the College Dems Blog). However, attempting to censor non-official displays of speech on campus crosses a line. This is akin to the principle that the government doesn't have to provide protesters with a bullhorn, but must provide them with a chance to make their views heard.

Pam said...

Not quite agreed. This is a Catholic school. That is not an issue the Catholic Church will bend on any time soon. To ask the school to bend is to ask the school to go against its morals -- and I am much more uncomfortable with that than I am with the idea that H*yas for Choice cannot speak freely at a private university that they should have expected wouldn't let them speak freely about this issue before they arrived.

When people do things I morally object to (abusing gay people? murdering Jews/Arabs/blacks/Indians/whatever? kicking puppy dogs?), I work as much as I can against those actions as well -- I make my voice and strength known in any way I can, with whatever power I can wield. There's a moral imperative from their end that you're overlooking, and they do have the legal authority to carry out this moral imperative in the ways they have used so far.

I really don't see the problem with it.

Rach C said...

While it is important to recognize Georgetown's status as a Jesuit institution commited to Catholic ideals, it is just as important to recognize the necessity of fighting on campus for what Democrats believe in. Yes, the University should and does reserve the right to withhold funding from groups such as H*yas for Choice, which the administration believes stands contrary to our standing as a Catholic institution. But while SAC funding is one thing, free speech is quite another. H4C (of which I am a proud member) is not asking University administrators to contradict Catholic positions on abortion by funding the organization; they are simply asking the University to officially recognize what most of us on campus already know: that H*yas for Choice are here, and we're not going anywhere.
I applaud Adam's call for a true debate on the issue. I have no problem with University declining to fund H4C. However, just because the University refuses to fund H4C doesn't mean that the Dems should stand down on the issue. We owe it to all Georgetown students to support a free and open debate about birth control and abortion on campus. We are the College DEMOCRATS-- while we stand for Georgetown, we must also stand for the national, PRO-CHOICE party. Let's rev up the debate! We cannot back down.

Liz Fossett said...

I forgot to add this when it was posted:

Not only does Georgetown not provide information about abortion, but it also does not provide any type of reproductive care for women. The University hospital will not only not fill a prescription for birth control not intended for contraception (skin problems, endometriosis, etc.), but it also does not have any gynecological experts available at the hospital or included in their health care coverage.

Despite being sex organs, these are parts of the body that often need special care from specialists. Females who do not properly take care of their reproductive organs or do not receive proper care can suffer from problems, including infertility.

It is unfathomable and unfortunate that Georgetown feels it is in the best interest of Catholic morality to choose to neglect the health of their students.