The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Controversial organization events at St. John’s

The first amendment, generally referenced as the freedom of speech, is indisputably one of the most important pieces of legislation that has ever been introduced to the United States. For many student organizations around college campuses, this allows them to relish in their ability to discuss whatever issues may concern their sphere of orientation.

For one college campus however, the same act of legislation comes with limits.

In January of 2007, an organization at St. John’s University advocated to host The Vagina Monologues, an intervallic play that discusses the past experiences of the women performing at the event.

After the University learned of the proposed event, several school officials fought to prevent the show from being held. Their rationale was that the play didn’t coincide with the values of the Vincentian and Catholic community.

In the fall semester of 2009, another organization proposed an event that discussed teenage pregnancy in Latin America. In that circumstance, the student group wanted to touch on the role of religion in preventing adolescents from learning about sexual education due to lifelong religious indoctrination that scares them from talking to their parents about sexual health.

After presenting the event’s agenda to the University, the student organization was allowed to host the event but was not permitted to discuss the specific role of religion in adolescent pregnancy in Latin America.

In more recent days, many attempts have been made to establish a Gay-Straight Alliance organization on campus. However, the university has been quick to dismiss the idea of such a club because yet again, it doesn’t coincide with the campus’ mission.

It is a serious issue when a university prevents student organizations from hosting events that question the roles of religion in society or discusses topics in relation to sexual health and orientation.

Firstly, by not questioning topics such as religion and its effects throughout the world, little room is left for skepticism and intellectual debate—something that is essential for cultivating academic enrichment within a student body.

In addition, students of varied sexual orientations are left underrepresented if the University does not allow them to establish organizations that foster the removal of ignorance towards homosexuality and other sexual preferences.

St. John’s should be more open-minded towards allowing student organizations to host events that question important topics like religion and sexuality. By doing so, the University would earn a prosperous reputation for being liberal and rational, something that many other schools are well known for.

In fact, Fordham University, a highly recognized Jesuit Roman Catholic institution, boasts two organizations named Pride Alliance and Rainbow Gay/Straight Alliance that primarily focus on promoting sexual tolerance among the student body.

Iona College, also a private Catholic institution, is home to a Gay/Straight Alliance organization and also allows student organizations on campus to discuss issues concerning religion and sexuality.

By observing the efforts of other Catholic universities that promote tolerance and open-mindedness, it becomes increasingly evident that several St. John’s officials need to unshackle themselves from a stone-age mentality that not only closes the minds of students, but also insinuates evidence of filtration and censorship.

If not, the University could produce a negative reputation that could damage the its academic progression.

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