CHICAGO – The largest Catholic university in the U.S. prevented an on-campus organization from displaying a pro-life poster, suggesting that the message was “provocative” and “hurtful.”
DePaul University is a private university in Chicago, founded in 1898. Although the university celebrates its “Catholic character” in its mission statement and seeks to foster the Catholic faith on campus, the school is being criticized for refusing to allow an organization to display a pro-life poster.
Earlier this month, the DePaul College Republicans requested permission to display on campus a poster bearing the phrase “Unborn Lives Matter.” Campus officials declined their request, saying the pro-life sign would have to be redesigned before it could be displayed.
The university’s president, Dennis Holtschneider, explained their reasoning in an online letter.
“DePaul is a private Catholic institution, and … we are committed to developing arguments and exploring important issues that can be steeped in controversy and, oftentimes, emotion,” he wrote. “Yet there will be times when some forms of speech challenge our grounding in Catholic and Vincentian values. When that happens, you will see us refuse to allow members of our community to be subjected to bigotry that occurs under the cover of free speech.”
Holtschneider then cited the College Republicans’ proposed poster, saying it was banned because the message “provokes the Black Lives Matter movement.” Therefore, unless the poster is redesigned, it will not be allowed on campus.
“Certainly, everyone is allowed to have their opinions on these topics,” he added. “I simply ask when you are expressing your opinion that you respect the difference between a reasoned discussion and words whose primary purpose is to wound.”
DePaul College Republicans said they were appalled by the university’s pronouncement.
“We, the DePaul College Republicans, are appalled by the university’s decision to censor pro-life messaging and give the Black Lives Matter movement some sort of protected status,” said Jorin Burkhart, an executive board member of the Republican club, in a statement to “The College Fix.”
Burkhart said the poster “was in no way meant to ‘mock’ BLM.”
“Frankly, DePaul University seems intent on trashing the very Catholic and American values it claims to be grounded in,” he said.
The Roman Catholic Church’s catechisms condemn abortion in no uncertain terms, describing it as a “moral evil” that is “gravely contrary to the moral law.” But the vice president of the DePaul College Republicans, John Minster, told “The Daily Wire” that the university “has shown its true colors” in disapproving their group’s message.
“Rather than standing up for the pro-life and free speech ethics this ‘Catholic’ University claims to uphold, administration has bent the knee to radical leftists, banning more speech despite the pro-life message,” Minster stated. “These habitual violations of students’ rights are why organizations like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) have claimed DePaul University may be the worst school for free speech in the nation. Sadly, administration is proving FIRE correct.”
DePaul University is not the only school that has controversially banned pro-life displays. As previously reported, anti-abortion posters were removed from a North Dakota high school and the University of Alabama, following complaints. In 2014, an agitated professor at the University of California—Santa Barbara angrily stole a sign from members of a pro-life organization and later destroyed it with scissors in her office.