This Saturday, students from across the country will converge on Georgetown’s campus for the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, the largest pro-life conference of its kind in the United States.

With a lineup that includes polarizing speakers such as Damon Clarke Owens and Mary Hasson, the conference has already been criticized by the pro-choice group H*yas for Choice.

Last year at the Cardinal O’Connor Conference, in a terrific display of expediency, Georgetown University Police Department officers confronted members of H*yas for Choice within just 18 minutes of their arrival in Healy Circle to protest the event. The officers asked the group to relocate to either Red Square or outside the front gates on 37th Street.

H*yas for Choice chose the latter, affirming to the Georgetown community that the university’s existing free speech policy was lopsided at best, unfair at worst.

Since last January, many things have changed. In November members of Hoyas United for Free Speech, a group founded last semester, presented a petition to Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, advocating for changes to the long-standing Speech and Expression Policy. These included the extension of free speech zones to all areas of campus and the diversification of speakers invited to campus. The university responded with clarifications to existing guidelines on protesting and tabling.

Should members of H*yas for Choice or any other campus group choose to protest at the conference this weekend, the university should respect their rights as dictated by the updated Speech and Expression policy.

The Cardinal O’Connor Conference is an opportunity not only to showcase Georgetown University as a seat of Catholic activism but also as a university that prides itself on rigorous debate and freedom of expression.

If executed properly, Saturday’s conference will highlight both.

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One Comment

  1. For once, I agree with the Ed Board – Yes, Georgetown needs to be a place of rigorous debate where all viewpoints can be heard.

    Here’s the issue I take – standing outside of Healy and rabble-rousing because you disagree with what is going on inside Healy is not in any way a debate. Those people who want to protest the conference should go to the breakout sessions and ask pointed questions, putting their beliefs up against the beliefs of the speakers. They do no good for themselves standing outside.

    In addition, if you want a debate, why not put a panel of HfC people and a panel of RtL people up on stage with a moderator asking questions about each side’s respective beliefs? That’s a real debate.

    Of course, the campus leftists around here are incapable of holding any sort of discussion about these issues in a dispassionate manner, so that very well could end up being a disaster. But one can hope.

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