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CHICAGO (ChurchMilitant.com) - A conservative student group is claiming DePaul University prevented students from attending a "Muslim Women Matter" conference discussing misogyny and abuse in Islamic culture.
On June 1, the conservative student organization, Turning Point USA (TPUSA), hosted a discussion at Chicago's Catholic DePaul University, featuring Raheel Raza, a Canadian-Pakistani women's rights advocate and creator of the documentary, Honor Diaries.
The conference was a discussion with Raza and Alliance Defending Freedom's Benjamin Bull about forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and other women's issues in the context of Islamic culture.
Jason Plotzke, chapter president of TPUSA's DePaul branch, is alleging the university censored the conference by preventing the group from advertising and only allowing members of TPUSA to attend. He commented, the university "tried to use a vague policy about time, place and manner to determine only days before the event that we could not have our event as scheduled, with the movie, speakers and opening it to the DePaul community."
The university maintains, however, it had initially approved the conference to be open to all DePaul students, but TPUSA changed the conference's lineup 10 days before it was scheduled to occur, which changed the agreement. It allowed the group to still have the event open to all students but only if it showed the movie or only featured the speakers, but not the two at the same time.
Furthermore, the university only allowed other students to attend as long as they joined TPUSA
Matt Lamb, a TPUSA spokesman, commented to Church Militant, "This violates not only our freedom of association but the freedom of association of all DePaul students." He continued, "We wanted to have this be an honest and open discussion about the abuses of women in the Middle East, but DePaul wanted to force students to register at Turning Point USA members."
Imagine how this policy limits dialogue: people who wanted to come and disagree with our message had to register as a Turning Point USA member. That would be like forcing pro-life students to register as members of a pro-choice organization in order to be able to participate in a discussion at an open pro-choice meeting.
Amy Mynaugh, director of student involvement told Plotzke in an email, "When the reservation was made for 6/1 it was called a "meeting" for Turning Point, with Charlie Kirk [president of TPUSA]. That was approved." She continued, "The event has now changed, you've indicated it is open to people outside of your org (not a meeting) and you are having a different speaker, which was not approved."
She added, "This is consistent with how we've worked with other student orgs this academic year, when they've wanted to bring speakers. We have not allowed substitutions."
When asked for the specific reason, Mynaugh commented that it was a matter of safety and that the university had complete discretion in the matter, adding, "The university may determine matters of time, place and manner, as well as reserve judgments on matters that affect campus safety."
DePaul, the largest Catholic university in the United States, has a history of censoring conservative opinions and even Catholic doctrine.
In October 2016, it prevented a student pro-life organization from putting up posters showing the phrase, "Unborn Lives Matter," claiming they represent "bigotry." University President Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, a member of the Vincentian religious order, told the group to redesign its pro-life poster, claiming it went against "Catholic and Vincentian values." He claimed the posters "provoke the Black Lives Matters movement," which the university has endorsed.