I find it disheartening and unsatisfactory that we have a President telling his student body that he “does not feel it is [his] right or the University’s right to speak for individuals on political or social issues,” when he has clearly allowed the University to take a political stance before.
It is my understanding that the reason we do not have a pro-choice club on campus is because the students who tried to start one were rejected by the University.
The University cited that the club would “contradict Benedictine values.” This is clearly taking a stance on a political issue.
There are students on campus with both opinions, and it is hypocritical that the administration would come out and say that it refuses to take a stance on the Link incident, citing the incident as political, when its record shows it has been comfortable taking one before.
President Hemesath, in your letter last week you ask, “Does the issue at hand have a direct and significant effect on our students and our educational mission?” If gaining an understanding of the truths and falsehoods of both sides of an issue is an educational mission—which I presume it would be—then how is it that there is a club for only one side of the abortion issue allowed on campus?
And how would only hearing one side of an issue not have a significant effect on our students and our educational mission?
President Hemesath, you also say “I believe that when St. John’s takes an institutional position on any issue, we run the real risk of stifling debate on campus and within our community.”
Well, President Hemesath, the debate has been stifled, and the vandalism in Gorecki is a clear example of what happens when that occurs.
The vandalism of the pro-life wall in Gorecki was not okay, but it is clear that it was brought about by a frustration with not having a voice.
If the University is going to allow there to be a pro-life group on campus, with the ability to spread information they believe to be true from a pedestal that all students are exposed to, then why can’t there be a pro-choice group with an equal footing to spread their information? It is hypocrisy.
So, President Hemesath, I implore you, how is it that you can say you refuse to take a political stance, citing the idea that institutions shouldn’t have opinions, when it is clear you have allowed St. John’s to take one before? How can you sit in your office and refuse to take a stance when your students are feeling attacked and vulnerable, when it is something that clearly has an impact on both them and their education?
Quinton Johnson ’19, SJU sophomore