By Hayley J. Tschetter
If you would like to contact the offcie of the University President to express your thoughts on this his number is: 651-631-5100 or 800-692-4020
St. Paul - Many people connected to the University of Northwestern community received an email last week, claiming that a club did not follow “university policies and procedures” so the request to “hold an outside event on campus was denied.” This email failed to outline what club and who was the speaker or address any issues relating to policy. Again, a day later another email was sent out by the university laying blame at my feet and that of my club for the cancellation of an event. I along with my Young Americans for Freedom Chapter (YAF) were going to host Christian, pro-life speaker Star Parker. After following directions given to me by administration about how to go about doing so, permission was suddenly retracted.
After seeking advice from the YAF personnel, I went to meet with President Cureton, along with two other YAF club members. At this point in the process, that seemed to be the only way we were going to get any solid answers. I was severely disappointed when President Cureton decided to not be involved and directed me back to Student Life.
I am hopeful that UNW has a reasonable excuse for not allowing the YAF Chapter to host Parker, yet they have not delivered any. I hold no ill-will towards my university; I love Northwestern, but I have been seeking answers and have been given none.
UNW’s public reaction was also a frustrating take on the situation. Instead of being truthful about the events, they chose to publicly slander me. They claimed that I was in the wrong, that I invited Parker and have been promoting the event without permission. No one outside of the YAF Chapter and a handful of UNW staff knew that it was on the table. To claim, without offering any proof, that I was acting outside of University policy is an unfair accusation. They also said that the faculty member who advises my club was unaware that Parker was coming which is also false; he was on board with her coming and was excited for that to be our first official event. Instead of responding to the questions from myself and the community, they smeared my name by portraying me as a rule-breaker. I spent weeks sending emails, having meetings and asking questions that culminated in the articles that have been published as I was not receiving any answers.
I am disappointed, saddened but not necessarily surprised by the actions of UNW against myself and the conservative voice of the YAF Chapter. This kind of opposition has been taking place on campuses nationwide, Christian and secular, community and private, big and small. I had hoped that the UNW would be a place where differences were discussed, not disregarded. However, they appear to be following the trend as well by rejecting my multiple requests to host Star Parker for a Young Americans for Freedom lecture.
My request was not radical, I wasn’t asking for the moon. I wanted to be able to bring a speaker to our campus who would educate, inform and start discussions among students and faculty. Star Parker seemed perfect. Her Biblical and pro-life views aligned with UNW’s Declaration of Christian Community (DCC), she has an amazing conversion story and has made incredible impact especially among the impoverished in our nation.
I have found, however, that our administration has become fearful of offending or else has just become lukewarm in their Biblical grounding. Why else would they turn down an amazing opportunity like this one? Students would be able to attend (or not) of their own free will.
By denying a speaker to come and share her opinion and life experiences from a Godly perspective, UNW seems to be straying from its purpose – being a light in the darkness. Instead of standing up for Biblical principles, the light is growing dimmer and dimmer, blending in with the passive “tolerance” of society. As Christians, we will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12) for who we are and Who we believe in, but we must be bold.
Matthew 3:21 gives a perfect example of what UNW seems to be becoming “Since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away” (NIV). Administration feared that allowing Parker to speak would cause controversy; that some students or the public wouldn’t approve of such a speaker. If on our Christian college campuses, we cannot have open and honest discourse, can we expect any more of others? We need to be different, take a firm stance on issues in our time and not back down. We need to promote the free exchange of ideas to cultivate critical thinking and to challenge the beliefs of the students
When asked why they dislike Parker’s stance, the only answer I received was she is “radical” and “the whole” of our community probably wouldn’t agree with her. Find any one person that an entire campus would agree with. It is impossible. Disagreement sparks conversation and “the passionate exchange of ideas” which UNW supports in words. That statement is also included in the DCC, yet they don’t act like they truly hold to that.
Why won’t UNW answer the questions from myself and the public? What is their reason behind not allowing her to come? What does she believe that is so “radical”? Why are these ideas not acceptable to exchange? Those questions remain unanswered and it concerns me that my university will not specify their concerns about Parker’s beliefs or act in favor of supporting life.
I am not only advocating for free speech for myself but other clubs and students at UNW and all universities and colleges. I would love to see more openness throughout UNW to have the hard conversations and discuss current events that will and do impact us as Christian young people. That is how we get prepared for the real world.
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