Analysis

U of Northern Iowa student government labels pro-life students a ‘hate group’

pro-life, abortion

A chapter of Students for Life was nearly prevented from forming, after the student government at the University of Northern Iowa branded them a ‘hate group,’ according to a video of the Zoom meeting obtained by Young America’s Foundation (YAF).

YAF reported that the student government had a virtual meeting to debate whether or not the Students for Life group should be given official recognition on campus. Ultimately, they refused to recognize the chapter, solely due to the group’s pro-life beliefs.

“This is a hate group! This is hate speech,” student senator Max Tensen said. “This is hateful rhetoric that is infringing on basic human rights of health care, and we cannot — we cannot support diversity and be complicit in its destruction at the same time.”

“Approving this bill is the same thing as approving a white supremacist group,” another student added. “You’re basically saying you support them to violate women’s rights.”

 

Caleb Stekl, another senator, said it was acceptable to discriminate against Students for Life, and that it wasn’t their problem if the university was sued. “If the university gets sued for not allowing a student org [sic] in, that is — taking that as your defense, I think is extremely facile and weak,” he said. “That’s just a complete preference or privileging of money and of admins over student well-being.” Another student senator, Triet Ngo, agreed with Stekl that not all opinions and viewpoints deserved to be protected on campus.

“I do not think that we should approve of this organization, and it should serve as an example that we don’t — of us not tolerating any infringement to human rights,” Ngo said. “Yeah, they have the opinion that abortion is bad, which is… an opinion that can result in catastrophic consequences for, you know, productive rights. Yeah, I would argue that not all opinions are equal. There are opinions, and there are opinions that get people killed.”

The irony of that statement — that opposing abortion is unacceptable because it could get people killed, when abortion takes a human life every time it is committed — was apparently lost on Ngo. He also seemingly did not recognize his own misogyny in arguing that seeing abortion as something negative would have “catastrophic consequences,” insinuating that women need abortion to be successful, and are not capable of thriving and accomplishing their goals while also pregnant or parenting.

But Students for Life still has hope, according to a statement the University of Iowa supplied to YAF, rebuking its student government. The university officially encouraged the chapter to appeal the student government’s decision, noting that the pro-life group had the full support of university administration. “The university will support their appeal, which is scheduled to be heard Monday by the student government’s appeals court. If the court declines to grant their petition, the student group can appeal that ruling to the university president,” the statement said. “UNI will not uphold a decision that violates the First Amendment and university policy.”

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