Pro-Life Speech “Upsetting” and “Not OK” for the Duke University Women’s Center

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reports:

Duke University’s Women’s Center has canceled an event about motherhood because the sponsor was engaging in pro-life expression elsewhere on campus. A Women’s Center representative told Duke Students for Life (DSFL) that “we have a problem” and an ideological “conflict” with the event, which was supposedly canceled to protect Duke women from encountering the event during the group’s “traumatizing” pro-life “Week for Life.” …

As part of a “Week for Life” series of events held at Duke over March 15-19, DSFL had reserved a Women’s Center space for a “Discussion with a Duke Mother” on March 18. A Duke student and mother was to speak about motherhood and the challenges of being in both roles. But the day before the event, the reservation was abruptly canceled in a voicemail to the group.

Meeting with the group on March 18, Duke Women’s Center Gender Violence Prevention Specialist Martin Liccardo said that because the event was associated with the Week for Life and DSFL, the event could not be held at the Women’s Center.

Liccardo told the group that the prospect of holding a pro-life event in the Women’s Center during Week for Life was too upsetting for some students: “We had a very strong reaction from students in general who use our space who said this was something that was upsetting and not OK. So based on that, we said, OK, we are going to respond to this and stop the program.” …

Oh, yes, and the Women’s Center “ascribe[s] to a broadly defined, fluctuating and inclusive feminist ideology that welcomes discordant viewpoints from varied experiences.” I guess this must be one of those fluctuations away from welcoming discordant viewpoints.

Duke is a private university, and is not bound by the Free Speech Clause. (That isn’t changed by Duke’s acceptance of government money.) But it is a university that claims it supports “freedom of inquiry and the free exchange of ideas” as “essential for the fulfillment of the university’s mission,” and we should hold it responsible for such blatantly viewpoint-based and narrow-minded exclusions of “discordant viewpoints” (even when the exclusion is just from one particular building).

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