By Cormac Quinn
A petition for a student pro-choice group is not a new idea on campus. However, one student believes after the proactive dialogues following last year’s Link incident, this year, the administration might be more responsive.
According to the CSB/SJU mission statement, the obligations of our administration are twofold: it must uphold the tenants of Catholic ideology; while maintaining its identity as a school of higher education, where the fostering of intellectual growth is rooted in conversation.
The Benedictine values are posted across campus and are exemplified by members of our community; they have provided a bedrock of ideals from which our institution has sprouted. The mission statements of both schools acknowledge Benedictine and Catholic values as integral parts of their operations. In keeping with this mission, they have an obligation to ensure their funds aren’t used for anything that runs contrary to their beliefs.
Fr. Doug Mullin, Vice-President of Student Development at SJU, says this comes up every year.
“[A pro choice club] is not an option,” Mullin said.
Junior Ally Nelson remembers last semester’s attempt to create a pro-choice group, and, inspired by the dialogue created after the Link incident, sought to keep the momentum going.
The rights and amenities provided to student groups on campus by the administration are a centerpiece of her argument. By denying the group access to those resources like mass-emailing and space utilization, she feels this result isn’t giving the students a voice, leaving this pertinent issue without an open dialogue. With the vandalization of the Students for Life display in Gorecki last year, it shows that students have differing opinions.
“This is not a good way to get your message across, but it shows people are frustrated,” Nelson said.
She talked with the administration but there was nothing she could say to make them change their minds.
Wanting to amplify her voice, she started a petition that circulated the junior and senior class Facebook pages, but she knew that even with 1,000 signatures, the answer would still be no.
The annual resurgence of this issue could mean a shifting of tides in favor of the group, but CSB/SJU’s history of adhering to the Catholic values is a part of the school’s identity. No pro-choice club exists in any Catholic affiliated school in the nation; to do so would be a radical step by the administration.
This doesn’t discourage Nelson.
“We pride ourselves on being forward-thinking,” Nelson said.
Mullin put the educational benefits of the group into question.
“Because this issue is so prevalent in society, by the time they’re here they’ve already made up their mind on it,” Mullin said.
Student led efforts to start a pro-choice club at CSB/SJU are likely to continue, but theultimate decision remains tied to the Catholic tradition.