On March 12, 2013, a pro-life group at Johns Hopkins University, Voice for Life, was denied the right to become an official student club by the Student Government Association (“SGA”), even after having been recommended for approval by the SGA’s Appointments and Evaluations Committee. (Ironically, another student group, Students for Justice in Palestine (“SJP”), was approved at the same meeting, even though it has a long history of anti-Semitism at other campuses. But I digress.) The SGA explained that they would not grant official club status to Voice for Life because (1) the pro-life group’s intention to peacefully engage in sidewalk counseling off campus at a Baltimore abortion mill “clearly violates the JHU Harassment and Code of Conduct policies”; and (2) one of the 100 pro-life organizations linked on the Voice for Life website included the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform’s (“CBER”) website, which the SGA judged to be “offensive.” Why was CBER offensive? Presumably because the CBER brought the Genocide Awareness Project display to Baltimore in the past. The display features gruesome and shocking images of aborted preborn babies, as well as Holocaust victims, and victims of lynching.
A class senator of the SGA wrote in a leaked e-mail chain that she objected to Voice for Life because the Genocide Awareness Project display made her (and others) feel “personally violated, targeted and attacked at a place where we previously felt safe and free to live our lives … this sidewalk attack on how abortions are hateful and such amounts to hate speech.” (Just imagine how it felt to the unborn babies?) She further opined in her email that a private university has “the right to protect our students from things that are uncomfortable. … Why should people have to defend their beliefs on their way to class?” Yes, Madame Senator, state-sanctioned murder of unborn children could easily make one feel “uncomfortable.” (I wonder if this would apply to pro-Israeli students, faculty and staff seeing a display sponsored by the SJP.) In any event, ironically, JHU’s motto is “The truth will set you free.” Once upon a time, it was at the colleges and universities of our nation where one thought about difficult and challenging issues, such as abortion, and one learned to defend their beliefs vigorously. Now, a few students believe it is their sanctimonious duty to limit discussion of abortion, which is the greatest human rights tragedy and sin in our nation.
Voice for Life President Andrew Guernsey says, “It is inconsistent with the JHU’s motto . . . for the SGA to try to hide its students – many future doctors and nurses – from the truth about abortion and how it hurts women, families and, most of all, innocent preborn babies. In fact, at the abortion facility a block from Hopkins campus, a woman recently died from a botched abortion.” See the related news story here: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2013-03-12/health/bs-hs-abortion-clinic-suspension-20130308_1_abortion-clinics-clinics-face-surgical-abortion-procedures.
This matter now goes before the SGA Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, April 9th, for review. Please pray for the success of Voice for Life chapter at Johns Hopkins University. And if you want to contact JHU’s president to express your views on SGA’s viewpoint discrimination that is violative of the SGA’s constitutional free speech guarantee, you can reach Ronald Daniels at 410.516.8068, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Oh while you are at it, you can let him know that you think that Dr. Ben Carson is a wonderful role model for the young people of our nation.) Incidentally, after I wrote to Dr. Daniels, the Acting Vice Provost of Student Affairs and Dean of Student Life, Dr. Susan Boswell, replied by email to me, and stated that “I can assure you that, in accordance with our commitment to broad debate and freedom of expression, the earlier decision made by the Student Government Association not to recognize Voice for Life as an official SGA student group is being reviewed by the appropriate student appeal committee.” I expect that a sound and legitimate process will be followed, but I will be following developments in this matter.