The Catholic University Of America
Office of the President
October 12, 2004
Dear Members of The Catholic University of America community:
On October 5, 2004, in fulfillment of a promise I made last June, I met with approximately 20 current CUA students to discuss a request to establish a student chapter of the NAACP on campus. I gave a full and careful hearing to their views. The students presented their case for the ways in which a chapter would bring a new, positive dimension to campus life and assured me that, regardless of any positions the national organization of the NAACP might adopt, they (our students) would adhere to the university’s policies and procedures, including the university’s presentations policy, under all circumstances. With that understanding, I asked our Office of University Center, Student Programs and Events to reconsider their earlier decision to deny the formation of an NAACP chapter on campus. They have done so and have agreed to allow the formation of said chapter.
You may recall that in April the university denied a petition to form a NAACP chapter at Catholic University for two reasons. The first was the university’s understanding that existing student organizations on campus were already fulfilling the functions proposed for the NAACP chapter. The second was the recent advocacy of abortion rights by the national leadership of the NAACP, a position contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church and inimical to the values of Catholic University. Our concerns were further heightened by the perception that student chapters of the NAACP were expected to abide by all the positions adopted by the national organization.
These concerns were allayed in the meeting I held. The students I met with made a compelling case demonstrating how and why a student chapter of the NAACP would be an important addition to our roster of student organizations, particularly in advancing the cause of civil rights. In addition, they pledged unequivocally that the student chapter would abide by all university policies and procedures, including the university’s presentations policy. (This is the same standard to which every student organization at CUA is held. Leaders of all student organizations are required to confirm their adherence in writing each year.) This assurance was key to the decision, as was the determination that a significant number of students genuinely wished to create a NAACP chapter. In fact, my request for the student life professionals to reconsider their decision was conditioned on these assurances and on a demonstrable commitment to creating and sustaining a viable student chapter.
I am grateful to all those who devoted their time and efforts to assisting in the review and resolution of this matter.
Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M.