An undergraduate pro-life group at Yale University has been rejected for full membership in the school’s community-service umbrella organization.
Choose Life at Yale (CLAY) spent the past year as a provisional member of Dwight Hall, an organization that calls itself the “Center of Public Service and Social Justice” and enjoys 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
But the social-justice organization voted Wednesday to deny CLAY full membership, which would give the pro-life group access to Dwight Hall’s funds, meeting rooms, service vehicles, and many other resources. CLAY had one minute to present its case for membership, followed by no deliberations whatsoever. Immediately after the presentation, one representative from each of the 96 member organizations of Dwight Hall voted. The exact tally is unknown to those outside Dwight Hall, but a majority voted against the pro-life group.
On the day before the vote, one of the student leaders of Dwight Hall wrote an op-ed in the Yale Daily News that asked fellow student leaders to reject CLAY’s petition for membership. Andre Manuel argued that the vote was not a matter of free speech but of a difference in opinion over the definition of “social justice.” According to Manuel, a group that denies reproductive rights cannot have a claim to an organization that promotes social justice.
It is true that CLAY promotes pro-life activism. For instance, there are annual trips to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. CLAY recently hosted its first annual conference, with focuses on interfaith dialogue, constitutional implications of abortion law, and pro-life feminism.
But the group’s work is not limited to such activism. In recent years, with the opening of a nearby crisis pregnancy center, CLAY members have devoted themselves to volunteering and serving mothers in their time of material, emotional, and spiritual need.
All of these aspects of CLAY certainly fit within Dwight Hall’s purported mission “to foster civic-minded student leaders and to promote service and activism in New Haven and around the world.” By rejecting the group, Dwight Hall has made clear that its definition of “social justice” — with member organizations ranging from Amnesty International to Students for Justice in Palestine — does not include active service to the community by conservative groups.
While the result of the vote is not surprising, it indicates an increasingly intolerant, conformist leftism on college campuses, one that has no room for any person or group that does not adhere to elite progressivism. This vote is even more telling than, for example, the recent controversy surrounding Brandeis University, in that it comes not from the administration but from a significant swath of students themselves.
— Rich Lizardo is a junior at Yale University. He is the president of the William F. Buckley Jr. Program.