Monday morning the Student Government Association (SGA) at St. Louis University (SLU) sent out a campus-wide message responding to Lt. Col. Allen West’s upcoming YAF lecture on campus, referring to him as “uninformed” and “uneducated.”
The email, which was obtained by Young America’s Foundation, invoked the university’s “Oath of Inclusion” to imply that West’s comments on Radical Islam, and his upcoming lecture, should not be welcomed on campus. The language they used, however, was far from “inclusive.”
In one portion of the email, SGA President Kevin Lynch, states the following:
Our commitment to live by this Oath was challenged last Thursday, when Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, who will be welcomed to campus on Thursday to speak on the topic of foreign policy, made several derogatory comments about the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Saint Louis University. These comments, which ludicrously align MSA with terrorist organizations, adhere to ignorant stereotypes and paranoid bigotry. They are totally fictional, and they have no place on the campus of Saint Louis University….
…I implore you to not let one uninformed, external voice define the narrative surrounding this group, and I hope each of you will get to know this wonderful organization (MSA) for yourself.
This is laughable. The Oath of Inclusion was something enacted when I was a student at SLU. Although the oath preaches a commitment to “ideological diversity,” their actions show a far different story. My freshman year, David Horowitz was set to give a YAF-sponsored lecture on campus, but was banned over fears he might “offend” other students.
The speakers SLU invites to campus are also far from ideologically diverse. Cornel West, Tim Wise, Toure, and Sister Simone Campbell of Nuns on the Bus have all been invited to campus with only a handful of conservative speakers represented.
Most recently, SLU again attempted to silence its conservative students by banning the words “Radical Islam” on posters featuring Lt. Col. West’s upcoming appearance.
Furthermore, in the email below, not only does SGA call LtCol West a “paranoid bigot,” and “uninformed,” they also encourage students to have “civil discussions” on campus.
If the student government at Saint Louis University really wants to be more inclusive and “civil,” perhaps they should start with themselves?
The full text of the email is copied below:
SGA President: Statement on the
Muslim Student Association
In the spring of 2011, after several incidents of hate directed at members of our community, a group of students – driven by our institution’s Jesuit Mission and devotion to justice – sought to develop a “creed” that would unify a fractured campus community. From this concern “of students, for students” grew the Oath of Inclusion, a proclamation that calls each and every Billiken to “…foster a community that welcomes all by recognizing the inherent dignity of each person.”
But what does the Oath of Inclusion become if our actions do not reflect the values conveyed in it? We are a diverse community, one proudly defined by the variety of perspectives and experiences represented on campus. However, our commitment to live the Oath must be unified – all students standing in solidarity for and with one another – or else the Oath is reduced to nothing more than meaningless, empty words, a ruse to convince ourselves that we care.
Our commitment to live by this Oath was challenged last Thursday, when Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, who will be welcomed to campus on Thursday to speak on the topic of foreign policy, made several derogatory comments about the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Saint Louis University. These comments, which ludicrously align MSA with terrorist organizations, adhere to ignorant stereotypes and paranoid bigotry. They are totally fictional, and they have no place on the campus of Saint Louis University.
In my four years at SLU, I personally have seen the Muslim Student Association work tirelessly to better the SLU community through enriching and entertaining programming aimed at educating the community about Islam. Saint Louis University is indebted to them for this service, and as president, I completely denounce any uneducated attempt to debase this organization or its work.
I implore you to not let one uninformed, external voice define the narrative surrounding this group, and I hope each of you will be able to get to know this wonderful organization for yourself. The Muslim Student Association will be holding events in the Center for Global Citizenship on October 4th and 5th for Islam Awareness Week. The information for those events is below:
Islam Awareness Week Day 1: Tuesday, October 4th, 2016
Carnival: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm in the CGC Quad
Student Panel: 5:30 – 7:30 pm in the Busch Student Center, Wool Ballrooms
Islam Awareness Week Day 2: Wednesday, October 5th, 2016
Food Festival: 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm in the CGC Auditorium
These events are a great opportunity to get to know more about the Muslim Student Association, while learning more about the Muslim community around the world and the faith they practice.
As an institution of higher learning, committed to the pursuit of Truth in all we do, we are called to engage in rigorous debates and difficult conversations about the greatest issues facing our world today. Just this week, our campus will engage in conversations around the nation’s first presidential debate and reflect on the foreign policy decisions made by the current president at Lieutenant Colonel West’s event on Thursday night. However, we have a responsibility to each other to maintain civility in such discourse. Our debates should never devolve into attacks on each other’s identities, and our conversations should always welcome the diverse perspectives that make our community that much stronger.
As a community unified behind our values of inclusion, dignity, and justice for all, we are stronger than any external force that may distract us in our journey of living the Oath and serving a higher purpose while seeking the greater good.
Student Government Association