*Chicago’s DePaul University recently banned its College Republican chapter from hanging posters with the pro-life message “Unborn Lives Matter,” saying it could “provoke the Black Lives Matter movement.”
The Republicans have accused the Catholic university of censorship and point out what they see as an irony of being unable to hang posters that argue — as does the Roman Catholic church — that abortion is wrong. The university says it is open to the group creating anti-abortion posters, but not the particular poster seen above.
In a statement to Inside Higher Ed., DePaul president Reverend Dennis H. Holtschneider explained: “Some people will say that DePaul’s stance unfairly silences speech to appease a crowd. Nothing can be further from the truth.”
“As we experienced last spring, it’s not difficult to agree that there is a difference between a thoughtful discussion about immigration and a profane remark about Mexicans scrawled in the quad, or between a panel on racial climate and a noose — a powerful symbol of violence and hatred — outside a residence hall.”
DePaul has been the scene of several free speech controversies in the past year. Both alt-right firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro have been banned from appearing on campus, with DePaul citing “security concerns” as the reason.
As a private organization, DePaul is not required to abide by First Amendment protections of free speech. But its guiding principles state that it is “committed to fostering a community that welcomes open discourse. We believe that intellectual inquiry is enriched immeasurably by robust debate and exposure to differing points of view.”
Father Holtschneider further noted that DePaul has had for some time a speech policy rooted in the university’s faith. The policy states, “We accept that there is a distinction between being provocative and being hurtful. Speech whose primary purpose is to wound is inconsistent with our Vincentian and Catholic values.”