“Our Own Merits”: Basilica Tells University to Stop Using Its Image Without Permission

Aerial shot of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Photo Courtesy of Noah Slayter

By Patrick D. Lewis

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has informed The Catholic University of America (CUA) that its legal rights are being violated and has told several student-run organizations and campus buildings to remove depictions of the Basilica from their designs.

Student organizations are already being forced to adapt to this reality. The leadership boards of the College Democrats and Progressive Student Union (PSU) has received emails from Steve Kreider, Director of the Office of Campus Activities (OCA), telling them that they needed to change their logos, both of which currently depict a stylized Basilica. 

The email also said that these organizations would need to go through the legal process of applying for permission should they wish to reincorporate the building in their branding. 

According to Kreider, the two politically liberal organizations were the only two clubs whose logos were in violation of the Basilica’s rights and that the decision had nothing to do with their ideology. 

Additionally, an orange-tinted mural that is on the north-facing wall of the Pryzbyla Center along the staircase going from the second to third floors also came under fire, because it includes a photo of the Basilica. A receptionist at the Office for Events and Conference Services said the mural was slated to be removed in the near future.

Photo Courtesy of Patrick D. Lewis

Alex Cranstoun, a communications specialist at the Basilica, provided an official statement, saying, “The Basilica has a longstanding policy regarding the use and creation of photos and artistic renderings of the Basilica and its Great Dome, specifically, that the use of photos and artistic renderings of the Basilica are limited to events happening at the Basilica.”

“While adjacent to the campus of The Catholic University of America, the National Shrine is a separate institution,” Cranstoun said.”Because of our physical and spiritual closeness with Catholic University, the policy has been relaxed on a case by case basis, such as when CUA events are held at the Basilica.”

However, the policy will be more strictly enforced going forward, Cranstoun added, which is why the Basilica made the requests that it did.

Cranstoun also referenced the longstanding cooperation between CUA and the Basilica, but said, “it is important for us to raise ourselves up on our own merit.”

Catholic University Associate Vice President for Communications Daniel Drummond, in a statement, said CUA understands the Basilica’s right to their property and image.

“The Basilica has simply asked that Catholic University coordinate with the Basilica when using any name, image and likeness of the Basilica in Catholic University materials. Catholic University has these same rights as to outside entities,” said Drummond. “We are very grateful for the partnership that exists between the Basilica and the University, and we look forward to its continuing for years to come.”

Whether depictions of the Basilica will disappear from campus remains to be seen, but with some already being removed, it seems likely.

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