Georgetown’s annual pro-life convention, the Cardinal O’Connor Convention on Life (OCC), faces criticism once again resulting from its title and selection of audio system. Scholar group H*yas for Alternative (HFC) despatched the college administration a petition with two predominant calls for: renaming the convention as a result of cardinal’s contentious previous and publicly condemning the cardinal’s actions and the rhetoric of sure convention panelists. The 2021 OCC was held nearly on Jan 30.
On the time it was despatched, 511 college students, 75 alumni, 32 scholar organizations, and 7 school and workers members had signed their names under the letter. The petition expressed concern over the attitudes and rhetoric of some panelists, each this 12 months and within the years prior. HFC led the push utilizing, its networks with different progressive golf equipment on campus to construct momentum and lift consciousness round problems with reproductive selection.
“Lately now we have tried to take extra direct motion to determine probably the most dangerous features of the convention, and attempt to apply strain for change in these areas,” Elianna Schiffrik (SFS’21), president of H*yas for Alternative, wrote in an e-mail to The Voice. “These hateful ideologies proceed to permeate American society and endanger the lives and wellbeing of Georgetown college students and the broader group.”
This 12 months’s panelists embrace Reggie Littlejohn, Valerie Huber, Dr. Alveda King, Dr. Dede Byrne, Gloria Purvis, Catherine Hadro, and keynote speaker Aimee Murphy. The petition detailed anti-LGBTQ views, abstinence insurance policies, and harmful anti-abortion recommendation from three panelists particularly: King, Huber, and Byrne. HFC additionally condemned the anti-Black, Islamophobic, and transphobic rhetoric of the initially deliberate 2021 keynote speaker, Gianna Jessen.
“I imagine it’s potential to search out anti-abortion audio system that aren’t sexist, racist, and anti-LGBTQ,” Lauryn Ping (COL’23), HFC member, wrote in an e-mail to The Voice. “But for the previous 21 years, [OCC] scholar organizers have persistently failed to take action.”
The rest of the petition issues elevating the Cardinal John J. O’Connor (PHD’70), whose checkered previous runs counter to the varsity’s acknowledged beliefs, in keeping with the petition.
The cardinal courted controversy along with his comparisons of abortion to the Holocaust, conservative views on LGBTQ+ rights, status as an enforcer for Pope John Paul II, and campaigning towards AIDS teaching programs within the metropolis.
“The truth that [OCC] organizers have persistently chosen to glorify Cardinal O’Connor, an notorious homophobe, and supply a platform for problematic audio system to indoctrinate a whole bunch of attendees with their hateful ideologies illustrates the values of the convention as a complete,” Ping wrote.
Renaming the convention and condemning rhetoric of the cardinal and audio system are first steps, in keeping with Ping. HFC additionally intends to lift consciousness in regards to the occasion’s funding and the GUPD presence when held on campus.
An announcement from Georgetown’s Proper to Life (RTL) scholar group responded to the petition by emphasizing the scope of their discussions, which lengthen past problems with abortion and commending the credentials of their invited audio system in addition to Cardinal O’Connor.
RTL factors to the cardinal’s medical volunteering and championing of ladies in pro-life arguments. Throughout his tenure as archbishop of New York, O’Connor gained a status as an advocate for organized labor, the indigent and homeless, and his pro-life views, from conception to pure dying.
“The OCC has a spot at Georgetown. We are going to proceed to defend the sanctity of human life in any respect phases and construct a tradition of life at Georgetown,” Kerry Ashkenaze (SFS’21), president of RTL, wrote in an e-mail to The Voice. Ashkenaze additionally talked about the group’s different initiatives past internet hosting the annual OCC, together with public service, fundraising for native being pregnant care facilities, and alluring different audio system.
“The OCC condemns any type of racism, injustice and discrimination, and has at all times been combating for the rights of marginalized teams,” she added. “Our advocacy of the constant life ethic implies that our protection of life extends past simply the unborn.”
College students have additionally raised questions in regards to the convention’s supposed viewers, as most attendees usually are not enrolled at Georgetown. The convention primarily additionally serves teachers, alumni, highschool college students, and clergy. Solely 20 p.c of final 12 months’s viewers included Georgetown college students, in keeping with Ping, but the college continues to fund and home the occasion annually.
Audio system invited to the convention fall below the college’s speech and expression policy, which locations few restrictions on outdoors friends in an effort to advertise discourse and open debate.
Whereas the college has a duty to sustaining free speech, in keeping with Schiffrik, “[Georgetown] doesn’t prioritize the mission of placing a stability of discussing pro-life concepts with protecting college students protected and limiting audio system who go towards the college’s acknowledged values.”
Regardless of ongoing criticism of parts of the OCC, the college hosts the convention yearly and maintains its protection of Catholic beliefs.
Based on a college spokesperson, “Georgetown is firmly dedicated to the Catholic Church’s teachings and values, together with these in regards to the sanctity and dignity of life, and we strongly help a local weather that continues to offer college students with new and deeper contexts for partaking with our Catholic custom and Jesuit identification.”
“This petition is an element of a bigger effort to attract the administration’s consideration to why this convention is so dangerous to our group, and simply what number of college students are prepared to face up and say so,” Schiffrik wrote.