A Demonstration for the Rights of Friars

Below is a statement from the group of students organizing Saturday’s demonstration:

At noon on Saturday, October 5th, the Providence College Community will be gathered to celebrate the dedication of the Ruane Center for the Humanities. A pall has been cast over this event in light of the Administration’s ongoing but recently highlighted inadequacies in recognizing, respecting and protecting the LGBT members of the Providence College Community.

Because of this shadow, faculty, students and alumni are invited to join together to stand in collective silence at this event to honor those who have been silenced by our administration.

Those who attend are invited to wear Providence College Apparel and black and white, our school’s colors, in an effort to support a spirited vision of a more inclusive campus. Bring with you a peaceful but impassioned attitude, respectful but poignant signs, and fellow Friars. We look forward to seeing you at this peaceful demonstration.

Please address further questions to Matthew Henry Smith.

A link to the peaceful and silent demonstration FaceBook page can be found here.

Thanks For Proving Me Wrong, PC

NickDefaultNick Wallace ’14

Where do I start? Upon hearing about the cancellation of Dr. Corvino’s lecture I wasn’t mad; I was livid. I don’t want to beat the reasons why into the ground (you can watch my 7 and a half minute tangent on the subject here: here). However, I feel obligated to mention two that have not been raised by many others.

The school’s policy of “equal and opposing points of views” for topics that are controversial to Catholic doctrine is BS to say the least. Seriously though, this policy isn’t written anywhere, and isn’t consistently enforced. For example, this Monday James Stacey Taylor, an associate professor of Philosophy at The College of New Jersey, is scheduled to give a lecture on Monday about capitalism and Catholicism. However, Rerum Novarum condemns classical free market economics. So, being that Catholic doctrine and the natural law according to St. Thomas Aquinas emphasize free and fair play in trading, and being that capitalism is anything but that, I expect one of two things to happen before tomorrow:

a) Providence College demands the opposing point of view to also be represented at the event tomorrow.

OR

b) Provost Lena cancels the event, being that according to Ex corde ecclesiae, “the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

In case you couldn’t decipher my attempt at being facetious, I do not actually want tomorrow’s event to be cancelled/adjusted in any way. I’m simply trying to make a point; this non-existent policy isn’t even being applied consistently. Thus, it goes to show you that the topic of the original lecture itself, gay marriage, was the main reason behind the cancellation. As a result, our LGBT community was isolated, and has every right to feel like they do not belong. That is the message our administration has sent to them.

Secondly, Public Administration has taught me that in any hierarchal structure, whether it is the federal bureaucracy or here at Providence College, those in power do not delegate to others what are most important to them. Where do we as PC students see the Fr. Shanley? We see him at our men’s basketball games, and on TV when we decided to leave the Big East. We see him finding rich donors to construct beautiful new buildings on campus. Sports and money are important to Fr. Shanley, and rightfully so. But I believe the needs of the students are also important. So let me ask you, Father Shanley: Where were you at Thursday’s event where almost 500 people were in attendance? Why did Provost Lena send the email? Why have you not sent a school wide email telling us what you think about the matter? Where were you last year at the Hoodie Rally for Social Justice after problems with racial profiling on campus gained national attention? Father Shanley has made it extremely clear that the problems that arise here on campus are not as important as making Providence College a basketball and hockey powerhouse with some nice looking buildings to go along with it. Clearly, this has some apparent and serious consequences.

If I’ve learned one thing this first month of the school year, it’s that I am a “maximizer.” What does that mean? Well at least in terms of Public Administration, I over-think and analyze every decision in my life before coming to a conclusion. I rarely go with that gut instinct. Instead, before deciding to do ANYTHING, I go through my options over and over again to decide which action will be the most beneficial (I think you business people call this “cost-benefit” analysis). I do this with literally everything: what to wear and where to go, while writing and speaking, and even when deciding what to do in the gym for the day. What’s worse is that even after making a decision, I think to myself “What if I had chosen the other option.” Surely there are pros and cons to this life approach, but the thing that stuck out to me the most when learning about “maximizers” is that they almost never take risks. Those closest to me would tell you exactly this. They’d tell you that I need to loosen up, that I’m too up tight at times, and that I am always safe with my decision-making. So this past week, I finally decided to take a risk.

My Community Organizing class decided at 4 PM on Monday that something was inherently wrong with the administration’s handling of the situation. Students had no idea what was going on; in fact, many had no clue that Dr. Corvino was coming in the first place. We planned the counter-event that took place on Thursday, and began informing the students via social media what had transpired. Friarside acted as a news outlet on campus, and we did everything we could to post and release the latest updates. By 9 PM, the New York Times had released an article about the cancellation of the speaker, and we were the talk of the world.

This past week I struggled wearing more than one hat. As a community organizer who felt passionately that the school had screwed up, I wanted to hold those responsible accountable. At the same time, as the Vice President of Student Congress, I was expected to act rationally and not impulsively. It seemed like somebody was scrutinizing everything I said or did. At times I was doing too much; at other times I was not doing enough. People cautioned me not to take action, telling me that while the administration may be in the wrong, we as a student body would need their help for future battles. Others cautioned me that my actions would follow me forever, and that I would eventually have to answer to a future employer about disobeying authority figures. My own mother even advised against me “stirring the pot,” and was nervous about my scholarship being taken away. In my opinion, too many people were thinking individualistically about the issue at hand. This wasn’t about you or me; this was about us as a campus. It wasn’t any one individual’s decision to “stir the pot,” it was a collective movement that had to occur. So anybody who doubted me this week, you lit my fire. So thank you for that.

And in terms of the event itself, it was amazing. I have to say; I never thought this campus could do something like this. We have a reputation for being a divisive school, full of polarizing questions. But for this, we came together and united under a common cause. Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, and hell, even The Cowl and Friarside collaborated for this one. Between 400-450 people attended, with another 115 or so watching via live stream. Students, teachers, and staff all came together and took part in the academic discussion that was taken away from us. We listened to student testimonials, broke up into small groups, and provided an outlet for individuals to share their stories in a larger open forum. More, the feedback myself and other students who organized the event have received has been tremendously positive. I’ve received emails and FaceBook messages from people I don’t know, thanking me for putting on the event. I’d just like to say this: Don’t thank me for the work you all have done yourselves. I did not make this event happen. My class didn’t make this event happen. The hundreds of you who made an appearance and showed that the issues of marriage equality and academic freedom are important to you made this happen. Thanks for proving me wrong, PC; I really needed you to do so.

Revealing Error?

Posted this afternoon by Professor Tom King on the “Fighting For Academic Freedom” Facebook event page:

“With regard to academic freedom, the college just changed its policy for reserving a room on campus. A professor just tried to reserve a room for his honors colloquium, and received the following response: “I’ll be glad to book a room for your speakers. However, as a result of a meeting that I had earlier this week, we have to now ask who will be speaking and the general topic for any lecture event with a speaker.”

This is not the fault of the good folks those who take our reservations; this was an administrative decision made earlier this week.”

Posted by Professor Joe Cammarano, 5:27 PM:

“Turns out it was a mistake by an administrative staff. HOWEVER, it completely applies to anything related to rooms reserved outside of a specific class, including departmental programming. AND, as usual, the brunt of control is targeted at students trying to use classrooms for things that might be problematic…”

____________________________________________________________

Friarside wonders: have the events of this week prompted a quick and quiet beefing up of existing restrictions on student assemblies/activities? Was the administrative assistant’s mistake the result of a miscommunication of such a crack-down order? Is the administration operating under the same silence and closed-door protocol that to a large extent caused this controversy?

Pick Up The Damn Towel

AbbyDefaultAbby Hevert ’15

Many students here at Providence College have questioned the decisions of our administration and the true intent of the cancellation of John Corvino’s “debate” about gay marriage. Some have not and have supported the administration’s decisions. Wherever you stand on this issue, we all know that Facebook has absolutely exploded with opinions, articles, and frankly, the pissed off sentiments of so many PC students. Herein lies the great irony: out of the midst of this controversy we have discovered the true capacities of the students here at Providence College. Are you ready for this?

We actually have the ability to get mad about something.

I love this school for many reasons. However, it is seldom that I actually see the majority of the college get “friared up” about something related to social justice. Of course, this is not to say that there are not large populations at this school who commit themselves to bettering the world around them. There are these groups of people. However, in my years here at PC I have literally never seen such a profound response from the student body about an issue that may not directly touch them personally. You know what that shows some of us? It shows us that we have empathy. It shows us that we can feel for other people who may feel abandoned by their school right now. It shows us that we not only feel badly for each other but that we actually are angry on one another’s behalf. A wave of a protective instinct has kicked in here, not only for the PC students and faculty/staff who do identify with the LGBT community, but for our friends, parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, and strangers who do not attend PC and also identify as LGBT. Many of us are attempting to hold their frustration with them. Do you know how remarkable this is? We have literally been watching advocacy work on our newsfeeds. Our twitter feeds show the passionate attempts of students to be heard on this issue.  However, I do have to say that many of these statements, while worth making, are angry.

Here’s another thing that I know: anger is a surface emotion.

When we get angry, we usually are feeling something else that we cannot or do not want to recognize. Maybe we are angry because we are scared for the future of our school. I know that many of us have gotten calls this week from confused friends and family members asking: “What the hell is wrong with your college?” Perhaps we are ashamed. Maybe we are confused. However, there is one thing to recognize: we are concerned. No matter what any student’s opinions are on this issue, a level of concern is being demonstrated as opinions are offered and, hopefully, listening is taking place. So where does this leave us? What are our options? Do we give up on our school? Do we “throw in the towel” on this issue?

No. Pick up the damn towel.

Show your peers that you care about them. Start conversations with not only fellow students, but with professors. Contact administrators. Form some groups to start this necessary dialogue. Attempt to understand this issue better. One very positive solution to being angry is to tap into some sympathy. PC needs us right now, perhaps more than ever. We need each other right now, perhaps more than ever. So are we going to give up on the place that so many of us call home? No.

We are too young.

We are too smart.

We are too determined.

This story has just begun to be told. We have the power to write the ending to it. Let’s make it a compelling one.

Dr. Corvino’s Latest Response

Dr. Corvino recently issued this response to PC’s “re-invitation” of his lecture. His full response can be found below.

Response to Providence College’s “Rescheduling” of My Event.

Yesterday evening I was informed that Providence College had “rescheduled” my event there—this time in the form of a debate with Sherif Girgis. The announcement was made in a statement from the provost.

The events of the last several days have been dizzying, and I would like to clear up the record on several matters.

First, on academic freedom, a concept that is easily distorted: I believe that a Catholic college—indeed, any college—has the right to choose speakers who comport with its mission. Obviously, academic freedom does not mean that I may speak wherever I want: I have to be invited.

I was invited to Providence College. On February 16 of this year Professor Christopher Arroyo, with the support of multiple departments, invited me to give a lecture on same-sex marriage, and we set a date for September 26. Last Saturday Provost Hugh Lena abruptly cancelled the lecture. So the concern here is not my academic freedom, but that of the nine Providence College department or program heads who were suddenly overruled by the provost, on the basis of a policy that he has since admitted is written nowhere. Moreover, Provost Lena decided that one of his own faculty members, Professor Dana Dillon, was unsuitable as a respondent for me. As Professor Fred Drogula, President of the Faculty Senate, pointedly asks, “Is the Administration henceforth to rule on whether and when each of us is prepared to speak in our areas of expertise?” (Drogula’s letter, which has been posted to Facebook, is worth reading in full.)

Second, notwithstanding the current spin from the Providence College administration, my event is not being rescheduled. It is being replaced with a different event.

In February I agreed that I would come to Providence to give a lecture, which would be followed by a Q&A period. Although Professor Arroyo and I had previously (last Fall) discussed the possibility of a debate, that idea was dropped for budgetary reasons. Then, just last week, I agreed to change the format so that I would have a lecture with an official respondent. Now, finally, I am being invited for adebate. These are three different kinds of academic events, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. I have plenty of experience with all three, and (as I’ve long said) I’d be happy to do a debate at Providence College. What I’m not happy to do is to aid the administration in the pretense that “the September 26 event was merely being postponed, not cancelled, until we could be sure that it went forward in the format in which it was originally proposed,” as Provost Lena’s statement said yesterday.

While it is possible that what was proposed to me and what was proposed to the administration were entirely different events, Professor Arroyo assures me that this is not the case.

Last, but certainly not least, there is the personal side to all this.

In his “rescheduling” statement yesterday, Provost Lena (quite rightly) apologizes to Professor Arroyo and Professor Dillon. As for me, he simply says that the decision to cancel “had nothing to do with Dr. Corvino.” But of course, I am the person whose visit he abruptly canceled, in an e-mail sent on Saturday to faculty. In two decades of public speaking, at over 200 college campuses, I have never felt quite so bounced around.

Yesterday a friend asked me how I was doing, and I responded that the media attention was exhausting. “Yes,” he pressed, “But how are you doing? You were uninvited to speak. That seems hurtful, even if not intentionally personal.”

The truth is that it’s difficult not to feel as if the Providence College administration regards me as a sort of virus, which might infect students if not blocked by some administration-approved surgical mask. This feeling is sadly familiar, to me and to any gay person. It is the malaise of the closet, the notion that some features of oneself are unspeakable. I am the Other. And if I feel that way, I can only imagine how young gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender Providence College students must feel. It is for them that I remain most concerned.

That’s where “damage control” should be focused right now: the personal harm to LGBT Providence College students, not to mention faculty, staff, and alumni. Pope Francis has called for a “new balance” in the Church’s pastoral ministry, and there is an opportunity—yet unrealized—to implement that balance here.

Remember to attend today’s event “Fighting For Academic Freedom” at 6:30 in ’64 Hall.

All Are Welcome: Thursday, 9/26. 6:30. ’64 Hall.

Join students, faculty, alumni, and other community members in open dialogue regarding recent events on campus. The event has been moved to ’64 Hall to accommodate a large number of participants.

Dialogue on the Meaning of (Gay) Marriage and Academic Freedom

’64 Hall – 6:30 pm

Ground Rules

§ Create and maintain a safe space.

§ Listen actively and respectfully.

§ Each person gets a chance to talk.

§ One person talks at a time. Don’t cut people off.

§ Speak for yourself, and not as the representative of any group.

§ If you are bothered by something that was said, say so, and say why.

§ It’s OK to disagree, but personal attacks are not allowed.

6:30 pm Welcome, Overview, and Student Testimonials

6:50 pm Small Group Conversations

  • Why is open and honest dialogue about gay marriage important to you? To the broader PC community?
  • How do we stay true to Providence College’s identity as a Catholic, liberal arts institution? Is this a matter of balance?
  • What are the challenges to having honest dialogues around this issue? How might we overcome these challenges? How can we prevent this from happening again in the future?
  • What should our next steps be, and what resources do we need to implement them? What do we want to see the administration do?

7:15 Large Group

  • Where do we go from here?

Friarside Chats applauds the organizers of this important event. Among the key organizers is our very own Nick Wallace. We thank everyone who will be attending for their participation and commitment to Providence College.

Public Statement From SHEPARD

Public statement from SHEPARD in response to the events of this week:

_____________________________________________________

Dear Members of the Providence College Community,

In light of recent events, we felt it prudent to address the entire Providence College community. For those of you who are unfamiliar with SHEPARD, (Stopping Homophobia Eliminating Prejudice and Restoring Dignity) we have existed uniquely at Providence College for ten years as the campus educational outlet for LGBT issues. As an educational outlet, we serve the entire campus community through events and weekly meetings that support and maintain the Friar Four: Contemplation and Communication, Integrated Learning, Cultural Competence and Human Flourishing. Over the past ten years we have been able to make great strides and effect positive change on campus. However, our ability to educate has been limited in the past.

At Providence College, the only resource available for LGBT students are the resources those students provide for themselves. We were ecstatic to find out that, our campus faculty was providing an academic resource for LGBT students and the community at large with a resource in the form of the academic presentation The Meaning of (Gay) Marriage. We were subsequently devastated when this resource was canceled.

At this time, we would like to express our gratitude to the faculty senate for their continued support. Last year, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution to include sexual orientation in the institution’s non-discrimination policy. While we wait for the Board of Trustees to rule on this resolution, we are optimistic about the dialogue that these recent events have generated. We look forward to a campus that is less polarized on this and other issues, and one that is more freely inquisitive and respectfully conversational. We see this academic conversation as an avenue for our community to get there.

We will remain here, as an outlet for all interested members of the PC community, long after conversations about this event have subsided.

Sincerely,

The SHEPARD Executive Board

Amanda Centrella ‘14, Caroline Jones ‘14, Kyle McCandless ‘14, Harper Rhodes ‘16, Matthew Henry Smith ‘16

The Hubris of Harkins Hall

mhagandefaultMichael Hagan ’15

Somebody must have felt pretty smug about Saturday’s announcement of the decision to cancel Dr. John Corvino’s guest lecture scheduled for Thursday night. An email was sent exclusively to faculty and staff at a time when professors were away from the office and students were presumably too busy eating, drinking, and being merry to care. It led with an assurance of respect for academic freedom and quoted bishops. “By God,” administrators must have thought, “this is golden!”

Was it hubris or crass indifference that blinded senior Providence College administrators to the offensiveness and inappropriateness of both the decision itself and the subsequent announcement? Saturday evening: school’s out, professors are home, beer’s cold, and the school newspaper doesn’t come out until Thursday. Harkins Hall crossed its fingers and hoped the story would simply fade away. But Roman Catholic institutions above all others should know that a public relations strategy of brushing news under the rug ultimately exacerbates the situation.

The highest ranking academic official at Providence College publicly expressed distrust in his own faculty member and colleague’s ability to hold her own in academic discourse. Professor Dana Dillon is an esteemed and gifted theologian. She writes and speaks accessibly and insightfully. Her participation would have enriched Thursday’s event, but instead she has patronizingly been made part of an excuse for cancellation. No amount of applause “for her willingness to present on such a complex and controversial topic” neutralizes the message of the decision just as no amount of written assurance of respect for academic freedom can rectify its violation. Dr. Lena writes one thing and does another.

But unless you honestly believe that this was a one-man decision made over coffee and Saturday morning’s Projo, Dr. Lena is not the problem. However circumstantial, there is much evidence indicating Lena did not act unilaterally; this was a bigger and more calculated decision than his words suggest. Even if it was solely his decision, it is symptomatic of a mindset that seems to permeate so much of Harkins Hall. Saying and writing terms like “academic freedom,” “human flourishing,” and “Veritas” over and over again will not bring them to fruition. Quoting the bishops’ conference out of context to suppress a doctrinally non-Catholic viewpoint neither advances the intellectual tradition of nor defends the Faith.

The negative PR from this incident is regrettable. I have heard people say how it hurts our reputation as a school. Some will condemn campus media outlets for generating even more buzz over a story that the New York Times just made national news. But is it right for a school to have a reputation its conduct does not match? We cannot build a reputation around respect for academic freedom if we do not exercise that respect. Any step forward will simply fold into several steps back so long as the administration’s deeds are misaligned from its words. Providence College can fix this, but such will require the institution to act in accordance with it’s own mission:

 “Providence College honors academic freedom, promotes critical thinking and engaged learning, and encourages a pedagogy of disputed questions.”

-from The Mission of Providence College, 2013

A Tale of Two Speakers

mattdefaultMatthew Henry Smith ’16

Father Shanley believes that the truth “lies somewhere in the middle.” He said it himself. He said it to you. He said it back on the 12th of February, 2013 when a visit from Sheldon Whitehouse elicited a scathing response from the Cardinal Newman association.

If you weren’t here or don’t remember, campus was abuzz last year with the prospect of Senator Whitehouse coming to speak to the campus. Sheldon Whitehouse is a politician who endorses the legality of abortion, and many here thought his principles would disqualify his words to our community.

In response, the President of Providence College, Fr. Shanley, sent out an email to our entire community which said the following:

“Let me begin by noting that the invitation to Sen. Whitehouse was made by the Political Science department without any consultation with me.  I do not say this to criticize the department, since it would be normal for departments to make their own judgments regarding academic speakers.   It was their judgment that Sen. Whitehouse’s views on the challenges facing Congress as an institution would be of obvious interest to the department and to the wider community.  I do not believe that any reasonable person could argue that the opinion of a sitting senator on the state of Congress is not academically valuable.

Does this invitation violate the U.S. bishops’ request that Catholic institutions neither honor nor provide a platform for politicians holding views at odds with the Church?   We are not giving Sen. Whitehouse an award.  Nor are we giving him a platform to promote views at odds with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.  Therefore I do not consider this inconsistent with the bishops’ wishes and I see no reason to seek to disinvite him from speaking.

Now hold on to that thought while you are presented with another email – one you never received. It wasn’t from Fr. Shanley; it was from Provost Hugh Lena. It chronicled the unilateral decision to cancel Thursday’s speaker, Dr. John Corvino. Here is what the email said:

“The Meaning of (Gay) Marriage,” a lecture by Dr. John Corvino, associate professor and chair of Philosophy at Wayne State University, which was scheduled for Thursday, September 26 and announced via email yesterday afternoon, has been cancelled.

While academic freedom is at the heart of teaching in a Catholic university, the United States bishops maintain that in accord with Ex corde ecclesiae: “the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions” (Catholics in Political Life, USCCB, 2004).   When it comes to mission-sensitive issues, Providence College has always sought to provide a context which allows for open and honest debate, a forum where both sides of an issue are presented in accord with the ideal of a disputed question.    College policy therefore dictates that both sides of a controversial issue are to be presented fairly and equally when discussed in a forum such as this.  That was not the case with this proposed event.  The notice sent out yesterday mentioned that there would be a response to Dr. Corvino by Dr. Dana Dillon of the Providence College Theology Department.  However, it has come to my attention that Dr. Dillon was asked just yesterday afternoon to provide that response.  While I applaud Dr. Dillon for her willingness to present on such a complex and controversial topic, it is simply not fair to her to give her less than one week of preparation opposite someone who has been lecturing on this issue across the United States for years.

The organizer of the proposed event was aware of College policy, and discussed a balanced presentation on the issue with members of the College Administration as far back as January of this year.  However, the organizer did not dialogue with the Administration as to his plans, the event was not developed along the lines dictated by policy, and the organizer did not secure approval from the Administration for his final event prior to sending the campus-wide email.  As such, I have made the decision to cancel the event.”

As far as any of us students know, and again, only a fistful of us received this email forwarded from professors, Dr. Corvino is an academic, not an advocate. He was coming to give an academic speech, not to receive an award for his principles.

The President of the school directly addressed and qualified the words of a liberal politician last semester as inherently valuable for fostering campus dialogue. But an academic is less than welcome, according to our Provost.

Recall, too, that there was no Theology Department representative who spoke after Whitehouse to reiterate the Catholic teachings. The policy, which I have been unable to locate despite a quick scan of our website, was not addressed in the President’s email.

This calls to question: does our Provost not believe that the Catholic Social Teaching disseminated by four semesters of DWC, two semesters of Philosophy and two semesters of Theology comprehensively combats the liberal agenda? If not, how many more semesters would be necessary in order for an academic speech such as this to stand alone.

Another facet of this is that a small army of queer freedom fighters didn’t organize the event. The event was sponsored by a collaboration of the following departments:

  • Black Studies
  • The Feinstein Institute
  • Global Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Pre-law
  • Public and Community Service
  • Sociology
  • Women’s Studies
  • Development of Western Civilization

So why now? Why one week before the event? Why only alert faculty? Why a speaker on (Gay) Marriage?

Because it’s not as if our Pope has just proclaimed we have been disproportionately fixated on legal issues. Nor, is it true that Rhode Island became the 13th state to issue LGBT inclusive marriage licenses back in August. Nor, for instance, was the campus’s LGBT support and information group, SHEPARD, just featured on the cover of the school’s newspaper for the strides it has made.

Fascinating, isn’t it?

On Thursday, in place of the event, Students will be holding a forum at 6:30 in the Aquinas Lounge (place and time the event would have taken place) to discuss the cancellation and the concept of Academic Freedom. We invite you to join us. 

A Message from the Provost

The complete email sent by Dr. Hugh Lena to all faculty and staff this Saturday. Students were not included in this distribution. Friarside Chats thinks that you ought to be able to read Dr. Lena’s announcement yourself.
_____________________________________________
From: “Lena, Hugh” <HLENA@providence.edu>
Date: September 21, 2013, 4:00:10 PM EDT
To: “pc-staff@lists.providence.edu” <pc-staff@lists.providence.edu>, “pc-faculty@lists.providence.edu” <pc-faculty@lists.providence.edu>
Subject: [PC-F] “The Meaning of (Gay) Marriage”

A Message from the Provost

“The Meaning of (Gay) Marriage,” a lecture by Dr. John Corvino, associate professor and chair of Philosophy at Wayne State University, which was scheduled for Thursday, September 26 and announced via email yesterday afternoon, has been cancelled.

While academic freedom is at the heart of teaching in a Catholic university, the United States bishops maintain that in accord with Ex corde ecclesiae: “the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions” (Catholics in Political Life, USCCB, 2004).   When it comes to mission-sensitive issues, Providence College has always sought to provide a context which allows for open and honest debate, a forum where both sides of an issue are presented in accord with the ideal of a disputed question.    College policy therefore dictates that both sides of a controversial issue are to be presented fairly and equally when discussed in a forum such as this.  That was not the case with this proposed event.  The notice sent out yesterday mentioned that there would be a response to Dr. Corvino by Dr. Dana Dillon of the Providence College Theology Department.  However, it has come to my attention that Dr. Dillon was asked just yesterday afternoon to provide that response.  While I applaud Dr. Dillon for her willingness to present on such a complex and controversial topic, it is simply not fair to her to give her less than one week of preparation opposite someone who has been lecturing on this issue across the United States for years.

The organizer of the proposed event was aware of College policy, and discussed a balanced presentation on the issue with members of the College Administration as far back as January of this year.  However, the organizer did not dialogue with the Administration as to his plans, the event was not developed along the lines dictated by policy, and the organizer did not secure approval from the Administration for his final event prior to sending the campus-wide email.  As such, I have made the decision to cancel the event.

Dr. Hugh Lena