On Monday, the Alliance Defense Fund sent Georgetown University a letter protesting its decision to eject several Christian student groups from campus. Despite attempts from students to reconcile with administrators and receive a full explanation for the university’s actions, the university is standing firm in its decision. As I have said before, Georgetown has every right to be exclusively Catholic or to restrict freedoms in other ways so long as it is clear about its nature and intentions. Students and parents are making a more than $100,000 decision (in most cases, the second most significant financial decision — behind a house — of any family’s life), and for Christian students religious liberty and free speech are particularly important. So what does Georgetown say about itself? Here are some samples:
First, among Georgetown’s so-called “founding principles” is: “[T]he principle that serious and sustained discourse among people of different faiths, cultures, and beliefs promotes intellectual, ethical, and spiritual understanding.”
Georgetown’s free-speech policy proclaims: “[A]ll members of the Georgetown University academic community . . . enjoy the right to freedom of speech and expression. This freedom includes the right to express points of view on the widest range of public and private concerns and to engage in the robust expression of ideas. The University encourages a balanced approach in all communications and the inclusion of contrary points of view . . .”
President DeGioia has even been more bold in his proclamations: “Georgetown has chosen to permit the widest possible discourse, limited only under certain exceptional circumstances, because we believe in three things: the value of intellectual inquiry, the integrity of individuals, and the ability of members of this university community to think rationally about ideas and work toward truth. We cannot be a university dedicated to intellectual excellence and at the same time place limits on what might be said and thought and discussed.”
University administrators have even incorporated the First Amendment into university life: “The category ‘free speech’ suggests another realm of life and argument, that of American constitutional law. Indeed, members of a university community exercise ‘dual citizenship’: we are academics and we are Americans. The rights and obligations that flow from our participation in each of the two orders—academic and constitutional—are not reducible to those of either one, nor superceded by one or the other, but neither are they in conflict.”
Given these promises, is it any wonder that Christian students were shocked by the decision to throw their groups off campus?