USF Students For Life Club Less Than Ideal

I try to avoid having moral and political debates on Facebook. It most often turns into a few people viciously squabbling to defend their views, and it makes for some awkward face-to-face interactions in the cafeteria. Yet, as of late, I’ve noticed several fiery exchanges over the hot button issues relating to the pro choice/life debate; and much of the furor stems from the recent formation of the club Students for Life at USF.
The group’s aims are to “promote respect for life from conception to natural death, seeking to raise awareness of life issues, such as abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, capital punishment, malnutrition, and lack of adequate medical care.”
While some of their aims would be considered by most to be admirable, some of their other stances are controversial enough to ask the question of whether or not USF should support such a club.
That’s not to say USF should in any way inhibit free speech; nor should those who hold these beliefs remain silent. On the contrary, I think being exposed to viewpoints that differ from my own is a good way to promote civil discussion. However when dealing with intricate (and often deeply personal) issues like abortion, assisted suicide and capital punishment, it seems like having a campus club is not the wisest choice for promoting the discussion of varying opinions.
USF has an illustrious history of hosting pro-choice speakers, specifically at their Global Women’s Rights Forum in March of 2010, for which the university came under criticism by some of the local Catholic media. However, USF’s support for this organization doesn’t seem like a good way to solidify its reputation as a progressive educational institution in which people can discuss their viewpoints.
Everyone has the legal right to put their opinions on display, even if that includes gathering people to participate in the recent March for Life down Market Street. However, USF backing the group in both name—and potentially financially—creates an environment in which it seems battle lines are drawn. It appears as though the university only supports a single viewpoint, putting the institution truly at odds with those in disagreement.
There are far better ways for everyone to have their views heard and respected, such as an open forum both for and moderated by students. That seems like a better alternative to backing a single group that specifically promotes a political and moral agenda, as opposed to a club that seeks to gather and help an underserved and sentient minority.
In the meantime, I ask for a cease-fire in the Facebook hostilities. Online discussion is acceptable; but a line must be drawn between people politely discussing their opposing views and all-out attacks on each other. It seems as though more of the latter has been happening on both sides of the issues raised by the presence of this group. In the greater scope of things, I implore the university to encourage discussion as opposed to giving the appearance of supporting a single viewpoint.

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