Two senior members of H*yas for Choice, an unofficial student group at Georgetown University, write in the student newspaper that their efforts to distribute condoms outside a pro-life conference on the Jesuit campus last week were thwarted by campus police.
Members of the group reportedly sat at a table outside the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, a student-run pro-life conference that occurred prior to the annual March for Life, with their banner and a bowl full of condoms. Less than 20 minutes later, the students claim that Georgetown police arrived. Despite the students’ insistence that they had a right to protest the pro-life event, campus police informed them they must go to Red Square on campus, which is designated a free-speech zone on campus where the distribution of condoms has long been permitted.
Laura Narefsky and Abby Grace, the president and vice president of H*yas for Choice, respectively, write that they now feel unwanted on campus. “Instead of being recognized as a contribution to a campus that strives for diversity, we are treated like a nuisance that undermines the university’s image,” they write. “This attitude is not representative of a community that celebrates free speech — it is indicative of an environment that cultivates fear of those who might disagree.”
The two allege in their piece that the actions of the University aren’t consistent with its Jesuit ideals, but they fail to embrace Catholic teaching on abortion and contraceptives:
“GUPD failed to recognize the spirit of the Free Speech and Expression Policy, specifically the statement that ‘Georgetown’s identification with the Catholic and Jesuit tradition, far from limiting or compromising the ideal of free discourse, requires that we live up to that ideal, they write. “Making it impossible for others to speak or be heard or seen, or in any way obstructing the free exchange of ideas, is an attack on the core principles the University lives by and may not be tolerated.”
“H*yas for Choice stands proudly with this call for inclusivity, dialogue, respect and tolerance,” the student editors write. “We can only hope that other members of the university community embrace rather than fear the opportunities that pluralism creates.”
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