After months of back and forth arguments about the initiation ofNational Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)chapter on Catholic University’s campus, the NAACP has comeout victorious.
On Tuesday, Oct. 12, Catholic University ofAmerica reversed its decision to prohibit an NAACP chapter on theWashington, D.C. campus. The decision was made after CUA wasgiven assurances that the NAACP chapter would not advocate abortionrights.
CUA president, Rev. David M. O’Connellwrote to students and said they “made a compelling casedemonstrating how and why a student chapter of the NAACP would bean important addition to our roster of student organizations,particularly in advancing the cause of civil rights.”
In June, President O’Connell denied theNAACP chapter on grounds that they promoted abortion rights andthat other student organizations had already met the need ofminority students. Many students at CUA felt the reasons werenot legitimate.
“I feel that as a minority this is notallowing the freedom of speech or opinion on certain beliefs. The reasons that the president gave were in fact notlegitimate,” said Jonathan Cartagena, a freshman undecidedmajor at the school.
“I believe that if CUA stands forequality and kindness towards all people supporting the catholicreligion, that all groups deserve the chance to speak their mindshere at CUA,” said Julia Ruane, a freshman english major.
Not only were CUA students distraught over thedecision, but also Howard University NAACP students.
“I don’t think that those reasonsare legitimate because there are tons of organizations on collegecampuses that have different beliefs and views. This is whatseparates them, making them unique,” said Diondra Humphries,a NAACP member at HU.
Even some members of the faculty at HU weredisappointed with CUA’s decision but understood theirreasoning. “Having met student minority needs forstudent organizations is not a legitimate reason particularly ifstudents are not satisfied. But if the NAACP is in conflictwith their position on abortion, a private university has everyright to express their concerns,” said Dana Williams,Assistant Professor of Afro-American Literature.
William Jawando, a law student attending CUA,filed the original application in October. Jawando said thathe spent months trying to get a chapter of the NAACP approved.
“We wanted to do voter registration andraise awareness about the November elections, not start a chapterof Planned Parenthood,” said Jawando.
Over the summer Kweisi Mfume, president of theNAACP, met with President O’Connell and threatened to bringabout a lawsuit.
The NAACP was founded 95 years ago. Itis the nation’s oldest and largest civil rightsorganization. It has chapters at about 150 colleges includingGeorgetown University and other Catholic schools.