University of Northern Iowa’s student government recently banned a pro-life club chapter from campus by citing that it was a hate group, that its presence on campus creates a hostile environment, and that, by existing, it would deprive other students of their “basic human rights.” In doing so the student government violated sophomore and club founder Sophia Schuster’s Constitutional rights as well as broke school policy.
On October 7th, the UNI student government denied Schuster the right to create a chapter of Students for Life in America based on their own stated pro-abortion sentiments. Schuster appealed her case to the student Supreme Court of eight justices on October 14th and was denied her rights as a student to start her club which violates the school’s anti-discrimination policy and American citizens’ Constitutional rights to assembly and freedom of speech. These rights were noted by the UNI president Mark A. Nook when Shuster appealed her case to his office.
President Nook recognized the oversight of student and American rights in this case by the student government and Supreme Court and rushed to correct the violations. S.L.A. was granted chapter club status at UNI’s Cedar Campus, which allows them access to campus facilities, to organize, post notices, and request funding for events. However, the approval of the club does not mean that UNI or the student body believes in the club’s mission as outlined in Nook’s statement on his ruling, “Neither the University nor NISG endorse any student organization’s viewpoints by approving them as student organizations.”
The approval didn’t go unchallenged as student government senator, Caleb Stekl, who politically identifies as a Democratic Socialist, denounced S.L.A. by saying, “[It would be] an absolute disgrace to student funds, to the institution of student government. [If this is allowed it would be] an absolute smack in the face to the years and hard work that women and activists have done.” He continued by equating the S.L.A. to the national white-supremacy hate-group the Klu Klux Klan.
In response to the discriminatory actions of the NISG and the Uni Supreme Court, S.L.A.’s national president, Kristen Hawkins, stated, “It’s very troubling that members of the UNI community weren’t willing to hear another point of view on what is literally an issue of life and death in this country…. Being pro-life in American is not something that needs to be shoved out of public view. It is a legitimate concern — and frankly — one that our students have every right to communicate.”