Caroline Laguerre-Brown, Vice Provost for Institutional Equity at Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, earned her salary last week when she cleared Voice of Life, a pro life organization, for recognition as a legitimate campus group.
I say she earned her salary because her action pulled the university’s feet out of the fire of public approbation by simply honoring the idea of freedom of speech on campus. The student government had refused Voice for Life’s application on the touchy-feely grounds that their presence might make people feel “uncomfortable,” and whether “a Hopkins group (should) be involved in this much activism.” In other words, they turned them down without any clear-cut reason in the University’s rules that they could point to. They just didn’t want Voice for Life on the campus.
Voice for Life appealed the decision to the Vice Provost who wrote them a letter stating that so long as their activities fell within the parameters they had outlined in their email to her, they were allowed by University rules.
It’s a lawyer letter if I ever read one. There’s an unmistakable don’t-step-over-this-line-or-you’re-out meaning to it. But the letter does say that Voice for Life can be recognized by Johns Hopkins University.
In my opinion, this is a real save for the school. All they have to do is just behave the way a university should and allow students with differing ideas to express those ideas in a reasonable way. Far too many universities have abandoned their own principles of open inquiry and academic freedom in an attempt to silence groups such as this. A good number of them have plunged their schools into needless controversy in defense of indefensible positions; positions that are on their face biased and discriminatory.
I’m glad Johns Hopkins University has decided to do the better thing and allow Voice for Life to present their case in the university marketplace of ideas along with everyone else.
Vice Provost Laguerre-Brown’s letter to Voice for Life is below.