University of Northern Iowa bans pro-life club, labels it a ‘hate group’
The rejection came after a long and charged discussion in which the members attacked the views of fellow pro-life students, including calling them a “hate group,” and this week the public university’s student body’s Supreme Court joined in that effort to block the pro-life group.
A video released by Young America’s Foundation shows UNI students complaining over Zoom that the pro-life club “engages in hate speech.”
“We cannot support diversity and be complicit in its destruction at the same time,” one student says.
“Approving this bill [to allow the pro-life club] is the same thing as approving a white supremacist group that’s trying [to] make an organization on campus,” another adds. “You’re basically saying you support them to violate women [sic] rights. And, like, um, I’m sorry but I don’t want a group on campus that’s gonna, like, when I – just an example – if I’m pregnant, they’re gonna try to force me not to abort my child.”
“I would argue that not all opinions are equal. There are opinions, and then there are opinions that get people killed, in many cases,” said another student without a hint of irony. “There’s really no middle ground here.”
Students for Life of America (SFLA) President Kristan Hawkins said that legal counsel had been contacted on behalf of the group as the appeal process continues, now headed to the university president.
“Despite the school’s own rules that viewpoint discrimination is not acceptable, student government leaders attacked fellow students for their pro-life views and denied a request for a new club based on their personal support of abortion,” noted Hawkins. University of Northern Iowa student leader Sophia Schuster has been advocating for a Students for Life club this school year and appealed the NISG’s decision to the school’s Supreme Court this week, which ruled against the pro-life students.
“I wasn’t really surprised by how NISG (Northern Iowa Student Government) reacted because I know abortion is a controversial topic, but I was shocked by how they allowed their emotions and personal opinions to influence their decision,” said Schuster. “Students for Life met all of requirements for being approved set forth by UNI, but they completely ignored that fact. I think they have overstepped their role and tried to use their power to silence us just because they disagree. This is a direct attack on free speech and of due process of law and an example of abandoning standards that they claim to hold.”
Schuster noted that during this week’s hearing, the NISG plead guilty to not having a legitimate case against the SFL group; however, the school’s Supreme Court did not do their job of protecting “minority viewpoints.” Instead, they added a new rationalization for the NISG decision that was not a part of their original decision. The student Supreme Court rejected the appeal, stating that the new group was not being formed “in good faith” or with “a lawful purpose.”
Sarah Minnich, SFLA’s Regional Coordinator who was assisting Schuster in starting the pro-life club, stated, “Student government and student organizations are meant to assist students in promoting change and ideas and to shape their character as leaders. It is difficult enough to go beyond classwork and be involved in civil dialogue on campus. The decision of the NISG and the Supreme Court demonstrates that they put their ideological affiliations above fellow students and at the cost of productive dialogue on campus. In addition, the SFL group was forming to promote the dignity of the preborn and aid pregnant and parenting students on campus which should qualify as a ‘good faith’ reason to start any club. Their decision is unacceptable and should be overturned by the university's president.”
Contact information for respectful communications:
University of Northern Iowa
President Mark A. Nook
1 Seerley Hall
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0705