by Steven Ertelt
April 10, 2008
St. Paul, MN (LifeNews.com) — The University of St. Thomas, a Catholic college in Minnesota, is coming under fire for canceling a planned speech by respected African-American pro-life advocate Star Parker. Parker was slated to appear at the college on April 21, but UST officials have censored the appearance.
Katie Kieffer, a 2005 alumna of St. Thomas and the founder of a student newspaper with a pro-life perspective there, says she booked Parker’s speech.
But UST Vice President of Student Affairs Jane Canney apparently nixed the idea citing concerns that the lecture was sponsored by Young Americas Foundation, a national group for conservative college students that frequently sponsors pro-life and conservative speakers at colleges nationwide.
The UST administrator denied a request from the student newspaper and the campus pro-life group Students for Human Life to reserve a room for the Parker lecture.
Our Catholic university has hosted two decidedly liberal speakers in the past year, Kieffer said. "For a person in charge of Campus Life on a Catholic campus, she is closed to our efforts to present conservative and Catholic pro-life values."
Canney told Kieffer and her sister, a UST senior who also helped coordinate the scheduled event, As long as I am a vice president at St. Thomas, the Young Americas Foundation will not be allowed on campus."
YAF contacted Canney about her decision and received no response. LifeNews.com emailed the UST official as well and has yet to receive a reply.
Canney’s objections apparently stem from a previous speech YAF sponsored on campus featuring the controversial conservative columnist Ann Coulter.
Jason Mattera, the spokesman for Young Americas Foundation, told LifeNews.com he’s upset Canney would deny students the chance to hear Parker.
Canney should not deprive students the right to hear Star Parkers ideas, he said. Such guilt-by-association is unbecoming of a college administrator.
Just because some students and some administrators claimed to have been offended by what one conservative speaker says doesnt mean you cut off the entire campus population from hearing conservative viewpoints, Mattera continued.
Its startling that a school named after one of the greatest thinkers in civilization is displaying such anti-intellectualism," he added.
YAF contends Canney’s decision violates a school speakers policy saying decisions on lecturers are governed by fairness and equity toward various conflicting views and interests, being mindful of the needs for wider information on the part of students and the larger community."
Star Parker is enthusiastic about educating young people about abortions demoralizing effects, ideas which are in complete alignment with St. Thomas stated positions and Catholic teachings," Kieffer concluded.