This week Boston College law professor Scott FitzGibbon publicly defended BC President Fr. William Leahy, S.J., from student criticism about Leahy’s opposition to a Massachusetts ballot measure that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide.
On November 1, Father Leahy joined the presidents of Anna Maria College, College of the Holy Cross, Emmanuel College, Regis College and Stonehill College—as well as leaders of the nursing schools at Boston College and Emmanuel College—in signing an e-mail to tens of thousands of alumni in Massachusetts, explaining what was wrong with the ballot measure. Voters rejected it on November 6.
FitzGibbon wrote that Father Leahy showed “moral leadership of the first order,” and The Cardinal Newman Society also praised the efforts of the college presidents.
But student editors of The Heights newspaper complained that Father Leahy’s action “infringe[d] upon freedom of choice and an unbiased education.”
In an editorial last week, The Heights editors argued that Father Leahy’s letter was inappropriate:
…BC is an institution dedicated to education, critical thinking, and the right to make up one’s own mind. The president of the University should similarly be dedicated to these pursuits, and The Heights believes that he is. But whether or not it was his intention, Leahy’s letter sounded preachy rather than educational—pushing recipients to vote one way rather than educating them equally on both sides of the issue.
If the goal of the letter was to bring Question No. 2, admittedly a controversial and polarizing question, to the attention of recipients, The Heights believes a more appropriate approach to the problem would have been doing just that—rather than presenting only one side of the argument, the letter should have outlined the measure and all of its potential effects, positive and negative, leaving the decision up to recipients whether or not it should be passed.
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