Loyola University New Orleans: A Request to End Political Favoritism
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On Monday, April 23rd, from approximately 9 am to 5 pm at Loyola University New Orleans, a group of students participated in a peaceful pro-life demonstration on the Academic Quad. The demonstration took place between the Dana Center (a building containing our cafeteria, student health, almost all on-campus restaurants, campus Market, and our campus merchandise store), our library building, and Bobet Hall (a classroom building). Any student at Loyola will attest that these buildings are central to any student's day, making the display almost unavoidable. The display used gendered (blue and pink) flags, which were spread across a large section of the quad to represent the fetuses that were aborted this year, along with a very large poster board detailing their pro-life agenda.
Students began to complain to The Assistant Director for Leadership and Student Engagement, Elizabeth Keating, later that morning about the sign being triggering and the fact that students that favor a pro-choice agenda are not allowed to assemble and protest peacefully in the same way that the pro-life students are because it is not aligned with Jesuit values. According to student sources, Keating claimed that the flag display was approved by the school, while the poster-board display and students standing alongside it were not. However, after placing signs outside the display stating, "warning: topics may be triggering. Topics include: sex, sexual assault, and abortion”, the school allowed the allegedly unapproved display to continue for the entire day.
A major selling point of Loyola University New Orleans is the fact that they are an open-minded Jesuit institution that allows students of all political and religious backgrounds to feel comfortable at their chosen college. When Loyola University New Orleans does not allow students to discuss abortion in their student newsletter, The Maroon, or have an on campus pro-choice group, while allowing a pro-life group to conduct a day-long, unavoidable display on the Academic Quad, the school displays extreme favoritism towards the pro-life agenda and the Catholic value system.
While we are well aware that Loyola is a Jesuit school, it is a college before anything else. Colleges exist to promote education and diversity of ideas and beliefs, not for stifling political agendas and making students feel unwelcome because their views are not allowed on campus.
In signing this petition, I am not choosing a side in the pro-life versus pro-choice argument, but instead certifying that I believe that college is about inclusivity, open-mindedness, introduction to new ideas, and diversity of political and moral thoughts. I acknowledge that no university should prevent any peaceful political protest or counter protest. I believe that Loyola University New Orleans should either allow a peaceful pro-choice rally on campus and pro-choice club in the same way that they allowed the pro-life group to form and present or issue a public apology to students who felt unwelcome at school on April 23rd because their school elected to support one side of a heated political debate and actively shut-out another.
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