The president of the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) recently rejected a student government decision, which denied Students for Life an opportunity to establish a club due to alleged fears that they wanted to start a “hate group.”
Students for Life has thousands of chapters across the country, and is focused on “recruiting, training and mobilizing young students to abolish abortion.” Much of this is done on college campuses, where the organization trains young, passionate pro-life leaders who work to “change the hearts and minds of their peers to save lives and recruit more young people to join our movement.”
But the Student Government of the University of Northern Iowa (NISG) didn’t see it the same way.
In part of their decision, the student government said that Students for Life lacked “good faith” and that the information provided was “vague.” The NISG Supreme Court found that “through the vagueness and the ties to the national chapter that this organization has the potential to create a hostile environment on the University Campus.”
The decision by the NISG also went on to state that, “the organization’s philosophy was antithetical to the school’s policies…and concluded that approval should not be granted to any group that ‘openly repudiates’ the College’s dedication to academic freedom.”
Students for Life president Kristen Hawkins said in an email statement, “Viewpoint discrimination is both unconstitutional and undemocratic, as the free marketplace of idea is designed to allow for citizens to share their views. For the Pro-Life Generation, a conversation on the human rights issue of our day – abortion – is demanded of all those who care about how our society has devalued life based on location. Whether in the womb, at the border, or in any city in America, preborn life matters and deserves legal protection.”
Students for Life appealed the decision to University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook, who overruled the student government on the grounds that the decision violated the First Amendment.
The decision read in part, “For the reasons described more fully below, the UNI Students for Life’s appeal is approved and the decision of the NISG Supreme Court is overturned. As a result, UNI Students for Life is a fully recognized student organization at the University of Northern Iowa, with all rights and responsibilities afforded any and all registered student organizations at the university.”
Nook concluded, “Universities exist to give students and all members of the university community an opportunity to wrestle with a vast diversity of ideas and opinions, to challenge their perception of their own identity and the beliefs and opinions of others, and to grow in their understanding of natural and social systems.
“This process certainly provided me personally with an opportunity to better understand the breadth and depth of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
He’s right, but unfortunately, when it comes to college campuses, freedom of speech is not protected, unless it fits within the progressive, liberal agenda. Throughout the country, students with conservative and pro-life beliefs have been fighting to have their voices heard and recognized on university campuses.
Recently, a sorority member was put on probation after some of her Kappa Alpha Theta sisters saw that she had committed the cardinal sin of engaging in some conservative tweets. She was told to monitor her social media posts to “assess their alignment with the Kappa Alpha Theta online social media contract” and “to ask herself before posting if what she puts online would help or hurt her ‘personal brand.’”
Increasingly, college is no longer a place to explore different ideas, but a facility designed to imbue young, impressionable minds with progressive, and often communist, propaganda. It’s impressive and encouraging that the University of Northern Iowa bucked the trend and has embraced the First Amendment.
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