By Hayley Tschetter, University of Northwestern—St. Paul Young Americans for Freedom
In early March, news broke that my school, the University of Northwestern—St. Paul (UNW), had blocked Star Parker—a Christian, pro-life conservative—from giving a lecture to my Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter. Parker’s lecture was going to be the inaugural event for our YAF chapter’s first semester in operation. I was excited to kick our campus activism off with such a fantastic speaker. My school, however, didn’t feel the same. After UNW unexpectedly withdrew permission for the club to host the event, it was bizarrely explained to me that Star Parker “radically holds beliefs that UNW as a whole would not agree with.”
My YAF chapter has since been suspended, apparently for the offense of inviting a Christian speaker to a Christian school. And now, false allegations about my character and that of our YAF chapter are being spread around campus. I have shown nothing but respect to UNW and its leadership who have said things about me that are untrue and continue to treat me with cold resistance. I was vaguely threatened with “consequences” for what administrators falsely call policy violations. After demanding a meeting in the midst of their baseless attacks against me and UNW YAF, administrators told me I couldn’t even have a pastor accompany me as a non-interested third party.
I felt threatened and uncomfortable and made those feelings clear, yet UNW administrators would not allow me to have any other person attend this meeting with them. They said that it was not their policy to have outsiders attend meetings related to “university operations.” Evidently, accusing a student of wrongdoing without proof is a “university operation.” Instead of responding to my questions, they smeared my name by portraying me as a rule-breaker and tried to force me into a situation that I felt threatened by. It saddens me that my school has turned on me for living according to what I believe.
When asked why they disfavor Star Parker’s pro-life views, the only response I received was an explanation that her views are “radical” and that “the whole” of our community probably wouldn’t agree with her. This reasoning is antithetical to the point of higher education, and it is impossible to find a person with whom everyone on campus would agree. Disagreement sparks conversation and “the passionate exchange of ideas” which administrators claim to support in UNW’s Declaration of Christian Community, yet their actions tell a very different story.
I thought that UNW would be the perfect place to host a conservative, pro-life, Christian speaker but I’ve been proven wrong by my school’s administrators. Sadly enough, conservative ideas are becoming more and more unwelcome even on Christian campuses, something I’ve experienced first hand. Despite my best efforts to comply with their demands I still have many unanswered questions for UNW’s leadership, and I am frustrated with their decision to suspend our YAF chapter. I’ve been told our chapter may be reinstated if I meet with administrators, but with their refusal to allow me to bring my pastor or another third party, I don’t see this being resolved soon. Why is UNW so resistant to allow a pro-life Christian speaker to be hosted by tuition-paying students on our campus? I believe that students deserve an answer.