Last fall, a conservative student group at Georgetown University faced expulsion from campus and the removal of funding because it promoted a Catholic view of human sexuality. After much hoopla, the group — Love Saxa –— was allowed to remain on campus and retain its eligibility for funding.
But, as the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, rob them.
Since November, at least $400 in donations to Love Saxa have been either misplaced or passed on to the LGBTQ Resource Center Reserve and other LGBT-friendly groups. Untold monies from a university-wide Phonathon are also missing. In the aftermath, Love Saxa is being forced (again) to defend its continued existence.
The group’s initial brush with exile occurred when its president, Amelia Irvine, wrote an op-ed for Georgetown’s student newspaper, the Hoya, describing the group’s commitment to chastity. The club exists “to promote healthy relationships on campus through cultivating a proper understanding of sex, gender, marriage, and family among Georgetown students.” Once upon a time, such views would have been altogether commonplace, particularly at a university that claims to be “deeply rooted in the Catholic faith.”
Times change, and a small contingent of vocal students immediately expressed their disapproval with the article. Which is to say, they came unglued.
Student Jasmin Ouseph condemned Love Saxa’s “violent … dehumanizing … hateful, and … dangerous” “rhetoric,” and the Hoya's editorial board called on the Student Activities Commission to “defund intolerance.” All because Love Saxa agrees with the Catholic Church that sex belongs within the context of a marriage relationship and that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The beliefs themselves, according to Ouseph and the editorial board, were tantamount to violence. Thankfully, reason prevailed and following a “marathon hearing” on Oct. 30, the commission voted 8-4 not to punish Love Saxa for its Catholic views.
Two days later, an individual sent Love Saxa a check for $50. Amelia deposited the check with the Center for Student Engagement, but the funds never made it to Love Saxa’s account. Instead, the donor received a receipt from Georgetown, informing him that his donation was allocated to the LGBTQ Resource Center Reserve. A second donation for $100 was made in December, but those funds were allocated to the Saxatones, a group that has partnered with the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League. The whereabouts of a third donation for $250 is still unknown. Finally, during Georgetown’s Phonathon, which raises money for student groups, a student involved with the effort informed Love Saxa that the group was “making bank.” But the club has received no funds whatsoever from the event.
Georgetown issued a brief statement that it had corrected the mistakes, though it failed to explain how or why the donations were handed over to LGBTQ groups in the first place. No doubt an official explanation is coming soon, but don’t expect a confession, not even from the “oldest Catholic and Jesuit institute of higher learning in the United States.” Most likely, a “clerical error” or “rogue lone actor” will be found to blame. Call it accounting’s version of “my account was hacked” or "my dog ate it."
The siphoning of these particular funds isn’t the issue, it’s the symptom. George Orwell once observed that “at any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas of which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question.” Anyone who challenges this “prevailing orthodoxy,” said Orwell, “finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness.”
The present-day prevailing orthodoxy on college campuses holds that speech itself can be violence. Ouseph claimed it was an “undue burden” merely for “queer students to have to dialogue with people” who hold Catholic views on human sexuality. Accordingly, the adherents of this belief find themselves justified — and even compelled — to put an end to such “violence.” Their attempts to defund Love Saxa through official channels failed. As a result, they may have launched an even more sinister effort to defund Love Saxa through misappropriation.
Whoever did this isn't just stealing money from Love Saxa. They are stealing free speech from the university. And the theft must stop. In the words of Voltaire, we must teach students to “think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too.”
Georgetown, and all of academia, has a responsibility to promote education and oppose indoctrination. Funds can be returned, but when we allow a totalitarian destruction of diversity of thought and expression from the marketplace of ideas, we lose something that is infinitely harder to replace. We lose freedom.
James Gottry is legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Love Saxa.
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