The Catholic University of America has come under fire and may even face legal action for denying a student’s application to start a campus chapter of the NAACP.
But even as NAACP President Kweisi Mfume denounced the decision as “blatant discrimination,” “intolerance,” and “prejudice” at a rally near CUA’s campus in Northeast Washington, D.C., the university stated that it had denied the application by senior William Jawando because of NAACP’s public support for legal abortion.
When asked by HUMAN EVENTS about his group’s stand on abortion, NAACP national spokesman John White said, “We have not supported abortion. . . We have never supported abortion.”
But CUA spokesman Victor Nakas pointed to a Feb. 24 NAACP press release–available on the group’s website–titled, “NAACP Board Takes Historical Pro-Choice Position.” The release–the link to which had been removed from the website’s press page as of June 17–reveals that the board of directors of America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization passed a unanimous resolution on February 21 stating: “A woman denied the right to control her own body is denied equal protection of law, a right the NAACP has fought for and defended for nearly 100 years.”
In the same press release, NAACP National Chairman Julian Bond said, “This is an issue of equal rights, and we are pleased to join those insisting on a woman’s right to control her own body.” The release also quotes W.E.B. DuBois, one of NAACP’s founders, as saying 80 years ago, “Every woman must have the right of procreation at her own discretion.”
Nakas said that in a June 16 meeting with CUA officials, Mfume tried to deflect this criticism by remarking to CUA President Father David O’Connell that, “the pro-choice position had been adopted by the NAACP’s board of directors, not its full membership,” according to the CUA press release. Mfume was not immediately available for comment. NAACP refused to offer comment as to the contents of the document.
CUA student life officials also expressed concern over NAACP’s advocacy and support for an April 25 pro-abortion march in Washington, D.C.
Nakas denied that there was any racial discrimination in the university’s decision, and pointed out that there are no college sanctioned pro-choice groups at the school.
“We are completely faithful to the teaching and values of the Catholic Church and the Catholic Church takes a pro-life position,” said Nakas. “We strive to be authentically Catholic in all we do. That is our mission.”
He noted that every on-campus organization must sign a pledge to uphold Catholic teachings. Even the CUA College Democrats must sign pledge not to “engage in activities or promote positions that are contrary to the mission of the Catholic Church,” in light of the Democratic Party’s advocacy for abortion rights.
Nakas also pointed out that of the 5,740 students at CUA, only 386 are black, leading the college to add that Jawando’s request to establish a NAACP chapter would be “redundant.” Two other groups on campus–Minority Voices and the Black Organization of Students at CUA–serve largely the same purpose, Nakas argued.
Although CUA has said no for now, Father O’Connell said he may “reevaluate the decision in the fall,” stressing his “obligation to hear the students out.”
Mfume reportedly agreed to allow a CUA chapter to exist without requiring adherence to any tenet of the NAACP constitution that may conflict with Catholic doctrine. But Mfume has demanded that CUA immediately reverse its decision or else he would challenge the school “in the court of law and the court of public opinion,” according to a CUA news release from the Wednesday meeting.