Catholic college allows Planned Parenthood fundraiser
Pro-life students question the university’s tolerance of a pro-abortion event
A Los Angeles–based Catholic school, Loyola Marymount University, is experiencing backlash after it allowed a student group to hold a Planned Parenthood fundraiser on campus.
In October, junior Megan Glaudini heard about the event through Instagram. The student group Women in Politics announced the Nov. 5 Planned Parenthood fundraiser would be a “semi-formal” event in a school dining hall with games and prizes. Tickets were $20 at the door, though group members could register early for $10.
Glaudini, a 20-year-old theology major, said the event “just didn’t really sit right with me. ... I felt like I needed to do something.” She met with others who were concerned about the event and learned that a campus pro-life group existed but had become inactive due to the pandemic. “It was two days before the fundraiser happened on campus—we had this idea to bring it back,” Glaudini said. “So we did.” Within roughly 24 hours, Glaudini and a few others organized a rosary “prayer for life” event, scheduled for the same day as the fundraiser.
But leadership did not. On Nov. 5, the fundraiser continued as planned, with Women in Politics posting on Instagram that tickets had sold out. Glaudini’s pro-life group, Vita, held its small prayer service just outside of campus before the fundraiser began.
Now some pro-life LMU students and alumni are wondering: How committed is the school to its Catholic, pro-life teachings?
The same day of the fundraiser, LMU released a statement noting the event was “neither sponsored nor endorsed by LMU.” The statement said that the school did not support Planned Parenthood and “remains firmly committed to its Catholic, Jesuit, and Marymount values.” It added, without detail, that it would be “reexamining and revising” policies about student group activities in the future.
Some abortion-supporting students subsequently held an off-campus, independent protest on Nov. 17 against the university’s statement.
Women in Politics said its event raised over $4,000 for Planned Parenthood. A week after the fundraiser, the group released a statement saying it had “no regrets” and would not accept any changes to university policy “that restricts our freedom of speech and expression.”
“This university prides itself on its love of diversity and constructive discourse,” the group wrote, “and that includes extending student organizations that ability to act in ways that may be controversial to the traditional values of administration.” The statement also claimed that the event “made Jesuit university history.”
It’s unclear, though, how the school plans to revise its student group activity policy, if at all. When I contacted LMU for its official stance on the disagreement, its only response was to email me its Nov. 5 statement. The school’s media office did not respond to a question about how LMU intended to revise its policies.
Samantha Stephenson, 32, considered herself pro-life before attending LMU, and she converted to Catholicism during her time at the school. Stephenson received her undergraduate degree and two master’s degrees from the university. She hosts a podcast about Catholicism and bioethics and plans to release a book on the bioethics of motherhood next fall.
According to Stephenson, LMU seems to be treating the Women in Politics event as a free speech issue, even though it was not a debate or dialogue, but a fundraiser. “What we had is the university offering its space to be used for funds to the nation’s largest provider of abortion,” she said. Stephenson first tried emailing Women in Politics and then the university president, Timothy Law Snyder. As of early last week, she said she never received a response to either email.
Stephenson said she is “loosely affiliated” with RenewLMU, which shared her letter to the university president on its website as a petition. Stephenson said the letter eventually garnered over 2,000 signatures. (As of the day of the fundraiser, 15,000 people had signed the LifeSiteNews.com petition.)
Glaudini said the school’s Catholic identity was one reason she chose to attend LMU. She said has been grappling with why the fundraiser was ever approved in the first place. “I do believe there had to have been some sort of mistake,” she said. “I don’t want to say it’s because we’re losing our Catholic identity, but it does kind of feel like that.”
Stephenson said she thought the university took a “hands-off approach” to the issue instead of meeting with members of the Women in Politics group. “I think they had a real opportunity to educate these women,” she said. “And unfortunately, I think the education they received is, when you try to work for something that you deeply care about, the Catholic Church is going to oppose you.”
On Monday, RenewLMU launched another petition calling on the school president to “stop your administration’s institutional commitment to gender ideology.” The petition came after news broke that Christopher Miller, an LMU professor of yoga studies and Jainism, requires his students to include their preferred pronouns when submitting blog assignments.
According to the school’s website, current LMU policy allows students to designate their preferred gender and pronouns as well as their “Chosen First Name” if it differs from their legal name. The LMU student newspaper, The Los Angeles Loyolan, reported in September that the school had launched a new online tool allowing students to designate their preferred name, gender, and pronouns for online LMU systems.
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