Students for Life of America works with over 1,200 pro-life student groups across the country. As a result, we’ve witnessed (and stood by our students) through countless cases of discrimination from school administrations. So when we heard from the Students for Life group at Xavier University, a Jesuit Catholic school in Cincinnati, that they’d met with the school’s President, we were pleasantly surprised to hear they had a positive interaction!
Last semester, this student group found itself in an ugly situation where their chalking was vandalized with water. This appears to be the first incidence of abuse directed towards the pro-life in the history of the school (founded in 1831). The vandals must be very proud.
The school’s investigative body found that the incident was non-discriminatory (yeah, right). The committee’s definition of “bias” is that it must concern actions on the basis of identity (race/gender/sexual orientation, etc.) As such, “pro-life” was deemed an “ideology” and therefore did not count as discrimination.
What ensued were questions about this Catholic institution’s support for the rights of its pro-life students and their free speech. Fortunately, though they refused to call this vandalism discrimination, both Fr. Graham and the committee agreed that the actions were hostile towards the group.
Following disappointment with the school’s somewhat lukewarm response, Xavier Students for Life requested a meeting with the university’s President, Father Michael Graham, in an effort to build bridges. The group based their meeting on appealing to Fr. Graham to make Xavier more accommodating to pregnant and parenting students – a common goal for pro-life people of all “levels of conviction.” And a worthy goal of pro-choice people, for that matter.
After a successful meeting with Fr. Graham about positive school policy changes, he wrote a nice letter (BELOW) to the school at large, condemning the vandalism as well as how it was handled by the school’s investigative body. Though a good faith effort, we couldn’t help but notice that the letter was crammed into a low-readership weekly email sent out by Student Government… whereas his response to DACA landed in every student’s inbox.
As pitiful as the reality of this is, it’s refreshing to see a statement like this written by a religious leader: “[…] Xavier University as a Jesuit Catholic Institution is and must be squarely on the Pro-Life side of this debate.”
Sadly, simple and obvious statements like these are getting hard to come by. We commend Fr. Graham for making it clear that his university, and his faith, does not accept abortion. His extensive description of what he thinks it means to be properly pro-life does not imply that he respects a person’s decision to dedicate themselves solely to the cause of abolishing abortion – but that’s a battle for another day. For today, we’ll enjoy the productive meeting outcome and policy changes that will benefit pregnant & parenting students at Xavier.