Solidarity in Support of Social Justice: A Critique of “17 to 2″
Audra Nakas, Class of 2015
January 28, 2012
Filed under Quill
As I sat in Caldwell auditorium Monday morning with almost five hundred fellow students waiting to attend the March for Life, I noticed a flyer being distributed. My curiosity piqued, I read the “17 to 2″ declaration protesting the Dean of Students’ decision to fund guest speaker Abby Johnson, hosted by Students for Life. I was dismayed at several aspects of what could have been an affirmation of solidarity among students who work for the promotion of human dignity.
Throughout the flyer, the writer’s rhetoric suggests a hostile undercurrent to campus pro-life activities despite the reassurance that “[their] mission exists neither to stifle anti-abortion efforts on campus, nor undermine the Catholic Social Tradition.” The writer objects to “longstanding primacy given to anti-abortion efforts,” despite the gravity of abortion. Since 1973, over fifty million innocent lives have been lost in the U.S. alone, and millions of women suffer the physical and psychological consequences. Furthermore, Students for Life is more than “anti-abortion.” SFL is concerned with the dignity of all life from conception until natural death, and its activities give testimony to that fact.
Besides praying and counseling at Planned Parenthood every Saturday and hosting speakers to discuss abortion, SFL has hosted Terri Schiavo’s brother to speak about euthanasia and Deirdre McQuade of the USCCB to speak about pro-life conversations. Furthermore, none of the issues of SFL’s journal The Choice has yet addressed abortion; previous topics include contraception and euthanasia. Last semester, SFL partnered with other student organizations in the prayer vigil for death row inmate Troy Davis. Meanwhile, SFL leadership is currently working on bringing a speaker to address capital punishment.
Later, the writer claims that other social justice causes have been limited by “the exclusive focus on anti-abortion activism.” “Exclusive” is an extreme word-choice; Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, CUA on Tap, mission trips, and guest speakers hosted by Students on the Mount are just a few of the many social justice activities at CUA.
The writer also cites a fantastic quote by Cardinal Bernardin emphasizing the importance of caring for all marginalized people, and at the end, urges CUA to support “a seamless garment of social justice issues.” Without the right to life, there would be no garment to begin with. Students for Life supports all activities that promote the dignity of human life at every stage; as a club, however, it can only focus on a few issues in order to maximize effectiveness. Because of their passion for human dignity, many SFL members actively participate in and support a wide variety of other social justice movements on campus.
Finally, “17 to 2″ claims to represent “a clear and distinct sentiment from the student body,” a bold claim considering nine SAGA members were absent. Ultimately, addressing disputes between the administration and SAGA need not entail turning against fellow students who have many of the same interests. Rather, to promote the dignity of life effectively, we need to stand together in solidarity.