After First Rejecting Request, Catholic University Approves NAACP Chapter
The Catholic University of America’s Office of University Center, Student Programs and Events has approved a request to form a student chapter of the NAACP, after the students gave the university’s president assurances recently that they would not engage in any advocacy for abortion or other issues contrary to Catholic Church teaching.
The students also affirmed in their understanding that, as with all other student groups, they must abide by all university policies, including the university’s presentations policy.
These assurances are consistent with the required annual pledge by all Catholic University campus-based student groups acknowledging that they will act in accordance with university policies and procedures. The issue of abortion advocacy became a source of concern to student life officials when they were in the process of considering a request to form an NAACP chapter in spring 2004 because the national NAACP’s board of directors adopted a pro-choice position that was made public on Feb. 24.
In a statement to the Catholic University community issued last month, the Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., university president, noted that the students he met with addressed two concerns that had led student life officials to deny the petition to form an NAACP chapter. In addition to the abortion issue, university officials had concluded that existing student organizations were meeting the functions proposed for an NAACP chapter.
According to O’Connell’s statement, “The students I met with made a convincing case demonstrating how and why a student chapter of the NAACP would be an important addition to our roster of student organizations, particularly in advancing the cause of civil rights.”
In a subsequent meeting with student life officials, the university president communicated his conclusions but left the final determination to the Office of University Center, Student Programs and Events.
“This is a great day for Catholic University and the NAACP. The students of CUA, with the help and guidance of the nation’s oldest and most revered civil rights organization, will have the awesome opportunity to do the work of civil rights,” said CUA law student William Jawando, organizer of the student chapter. “It is extremely gratifying to see this finally happen.”
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