As the chair of the conservative club at Duquesne University, I received an incredible amount of
resistance from university officials last week when my club tried to distribute posters for Freedom Week.
The posters in question educated people about how the Berlin
Wall was a symbol of imprisonment for those who lived in the shadow
of the Iron Curtain. I attempted tried hang the posters in Towers resident hall, the largest on campus. I turned
the posters into the Towers office for approval, per university
policy, and when we did not receive any feedback, we assumed the posters would be
hung up by the RAs later that day. When two days passed and the
posters were still absent, I inquired as to why the posters
had not been distributed. The Towers Office said that the RAs hadn’t
gotten around to doing it and that the posters would be hung by the
end of the week.
Through word-of-mouth, I discovered
that the posters had not been approved and were torn down by someone else.
Seeking to discover any truth to this
story, I again inquired and was told by the Towers Office staff that the posters had indeed been
hung, someone was upset by them, and then the posters were then taken down. Subsequently, if I wanted to know more, I would have to talk to Father Sean Hogan, the
Executive Vice President for Student Life.
I met with Father Hogan who admitted that he was personally upset by the
poster because it featured skulls. He thought the image might upset students in the residence halls. He said the images were somewhat
“off-putting” and that he had instructed the residence hall to not
even hang the poster.
Fr. Hogan’s actions are a direct assault on free speech on Duquesne
University’s campus. When campus administrators use their own personal view to determine which ideas students should encounter, it does a disservice to everyone on campus. If Duquesne University is upset about skulls on a poster,
what else will they be upset about? If the university is silencing the horrible truths of life under communism and the Berlin Wall,
what other truths would they seek to silence? This is yet another
example of how Duquesne University is trying to stifle free speech and conservative ideas.
Bridget Seelinger is a conservative activist and leader of the conservative club at Duquesne University.