Whose Turn Is It to Talk?

By The Tower Staff

The Catholic University of America has a free speech dilemma. This school is encountering an issue with its free speech policies that differs from other universities.

The university will not permit any individual or organization to come and discuss issues regarding women’s reproductive healthcare or LGBT rights. Catholic seems to contradict the Church’s values of unity, respect for people as well as the environment, fighting against poverty, and other “pro-life” identities with the speakers they recently invited.

Catholic has been regulating presentations about LGBT issues for years now. In October, 2014, a College Democrats screening of Oscar-nominated movie Milk, about the life of gay-rights activist Harvey Milk, was cancelled. Just this past fall, Reverend James Martin, a Vatican consultant and author of a recent book that promoted the Catholic Church making more of an effort to include LGBT youth, was disinvited by the Theological College from speaking at the seminary’s annual alumni event.

Catholic University doesn’t seem to have a problem cancelling any and all demonstrations of LGBT inclusion, but will still parade high-ranking politicians and businessmen whose agendas don’t overlap with the Church’s at all. These speakers include Antoni Macierewicz, a right-wing Polish politician with a history of alleged anti-semitic remarks; Charles Koch, a libertarian industrialist advocating for fossil fuel deregulation that is harming the planet; and Alexander Acosta, current federal Labor Secretary who supports anti-union laws.

While President Garvey emailed the students in the fall to note his disagreement with the Theological College’s decision to disinvite Rev. Martin, he advocated for the invitation of Macierewicz this week, despite several professors at Catholic mentioning their disapproval of his politics.

Two words within the university’s official name, America and University, are lacking on campus. America is the land of free speech and expression, and a university is meant to be an institution challenging young minds to question their preconceived notions and ideologies regarding life itself. If our own university fails to live up to its own name, we are doomed to become sheltered minds in a society of complex polarization.

It is understandable why the school carries a certain agenda as the national university of the Catholic Church, but there should be some leveling of the playing field. Disinviting speakers the students actually want to hear from won’t keep us from agreeing with them, it will only call to light the administration’s avoidance of issues we care about. At a place like Catholic University of America we should come together and listen to one another, not shut each other down.

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