OPINION: Letter to administration: a call for a pro-choice club


Photo courtesy of Benjamin Barrero, Jessica Arevalo Ontiveros, and Ajahrain Yellowhair.

After attending the Voice for Life seminar on Monday, March 25, we are appalled at the current state of the University. When students attempted to vocalize dissenting opinions, they were silenced, shamed, and told to find a “different venue or event” to share their beliefs.

This demand holds no validity considering that there is no current space or club to do so. After all, the protest that occurred that night was an inevitable culmination from the tensions and frustrations students with opposing viewpoints have been feeling, way before the anti-abortion lecture. The UP community cannot have an open dialogue if only one side has an established platform and unwavering support from the University.

As stated in the Palm Sunday email by the Vice President for Student Affairs, Rev. Donato, “this is not only a Catholic community, but an academic one.” Therefore, how can it be stated that the University supports “interfaith and intergroup dialogue” when there is a heavy restriction on who is allowed and not allowed to create clubs, host events, or even share opinions?

We are strongly urging that the UP administration uphold their values of open conversation by allowing the creation of a pro-choice club. Not only are UP students not all Catholics, but also not all Catholics are anti-abortion, despite Rev. Donato claiming that “Catholics do not believe in abortion” in the email.

Cultivating a diversity of opinion on UP’s campus is possible. Take, for example, these notable religious-identifying schools who do have pro-choice student organizations: Willamette University, a Methodist Mission school, has an established Choice Action Team and Gonzaga University, a fellow Catholic school, has Zags for Reproductive Justice.

Given that these aforementioned schools have not allowed their religious identity to become a barrier to open dialogue, UP would be wise to follow their example and listen to this call to action. Instead of confronting students with opposition and labeling them as “disruptive,” allow a space for students to express different opinions, concerns, and ideas, especially at public events where it is claimed that “interfaith and intergroup dialogue” are welcome.

We hope that the UP administration hears our concerns sincerely and considers making a change for the good of the UP community.

Ajahrain Yellowhair is a sophomore at the University of Portland. They can be reached at yellowha26@up.edu.  

Jessica Arevalo Ontiveros is a sophomore at the University of Portland. She can be reached at arevaloo26@up.edu.

Benjamin Barrero is a sophomore at the University of Portland. He can be reached at barrero26@up.edu.

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