Gonzaga University Declares the Word "Hate" as Discriminatory Administrators Censor Student Flyer · 16 October 2003

Press Release from Young America's Foundation. For more information contact Rick Parsons at 800-USA-1776.

HERNDON, VA - Gonzaga University (Spokane, WA) administration officials censored flyers advertising a Young America's Foundation organized lecture because the word "hate" was used on the flyer. The flyer in question featured the topic of guest speaker Dan Flynn's speech, "Why the Left Hates America," which is also the title of his book. The administration first approved the flyer then rescinded the approval after some professors and students complained of the use of the word "hate."

In a letter obtained by Young America's Foundation, Gonzaga's Office of Student Activities informed the conservative student group that a complaint was made against the group because some feel "the Left Hates…" printed on the flyer was "discriminatory." The letter did not identify who raised objections to the flyer. The office then told the students that "in the future you watch what information is printed on your flyers." The office also informed the student group that the complaint would be included in their file.

In a conversation with Gonzaga's Director of Student Activities, student organizer Paul Schafer was told that the word "hate" is a strong word and that the students shouldn't hold an event at which a speaker hates someone. The director also told Schafer that many students and faculty members tore down his group's flyers to bring them to the office to make complaints. The director has so far refused to give Schafer the names of the people who tore down the flyers, which is a violation of Gonzaga's posting policy. He then compared the speech title "Why the Left Hates America" to an imaginary Caucasian club talking about how it hates black people.

The administration forced the students to change the flyer to reflect that the speech topic is the title of Flynn's book. If the students did not change the flyer to reflect administration's opinions, the students would not have been allowed to post their flyers.

"It is obvious," explains Paul Schafer, "that some members of the Gonzaga administration are putting their personal politics over their job and over the rights of students on this campus."

Further erosions of students' free speech occurred when the trustees of Gonzaga University passed new rules on who students can sponsor as a guest speaker on campus. Now the administration must give approval of the topics that speakers will present on campus. According to the new guidelines, university officials may forbid a guest speaker or event if "the speech or event would not constitute a legitimate educational experience or otherwise contribute to the University's mission," leaving the student's expression of thought and diversity of ideas to university bureaucrats. If university officials do not cancel or deny permission to students requesting a guest lecture or event, officials reserve the right to issue disclaimers, require a question and answer period immediately following the event, create programming to counter the ideas expressed at the event, or balance a guest lecture with opposing views during the event.

"Gonzaga University has opportunities to educate their students in many ways," states Young America's Foundation President Ron Robinson. "To restrict how student organizations contribute to campus dialogue is overreaching."

For further information, please call Rick Parsons at (800) USA-1776.

Young America's Foundation is an educational organization promoting conservative ideas on our nation's campuses through lectures, publications, and conferences. This past academic year, the Foundation sponsored over 300 lectures, including addresses by Walter Williams, Ann Coulter, Ben Stein, and John Stossel. In addition, Young America's Foundation saved President Reagan's Western White House - Rancho del Cielo in Santa Barbara, California - to serve as the centerpiece of its Reagan Ranch Program.