Georgetown University is facing investigations regarding redirection of funding from an explicitly pro-family student group to pro-LGBTQ organizations.
The pro-family student group “Love Saxa” (a play on words of “Love Rocks”) is known on campus for its affirmation of orthodox Catholic Church teaching on marriage. Pink News reported that the president of the group, Amelia Irvine, openly stated in an op-ed piece for the student newspaper that the definition of marriage “does not include same-sex couples.” Irvine further stated that the group holds
“that marriage is a conjugal union on every level – emotional, spiritual, physical and mental – directed toward caring for biological children. To us, marriage is much more than commitment of love between two consenting adults.”
Not surprisingly, Love Saxa’s exclusive definition of marriage was not warmly received by many people at the Washington, DC school. Many Georgetown students pushed back and petitioned that the group’s anti-LGBTQ statements meant that they should be considered a hate group. Love Saxa was sanctioned by Georgetown, and student officers underwent long interviews which would determine whether or not the group would be disbanded.
Georgetown ruled that the group would be allowed to remain since their statements were, in fact, in line with Catholic teachings.
However, Love Saxa group members are now claiming that donations and funding have been redirected from their university account since November. Pink News stated that the students reported three different occasions in which donations that were meant for Love Saxa allegedly ended up in the accounts of pro-LGBTQ groups on campus. These donations ranged from $50-$250, and in at least one of the cases, the receipt indicated to the donor that their money had been sent to an LGBTQ support group rather than Love Saxa.
Given the tense history between Love Saxa and pro-LGBTQ students on Georgetown’s campus, there are suspicions that the misappropriation of funds may have been a retaliation against Love Saxa. Love Saxa is currently seeking legal representation from The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), “a top law firm notorious for its anti-LGBTQ cases that was designated as a hate group last year,”according to PinkNews.
The Global Dispatch recorded a statement made by Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom:
“Universities should encourage students to participate in the free marketplace of ideas, not favor some while financially exploiting others. We call upon Georgetown to investigate this breach of Love Saxa’s checking account and its donors’ trust, restore all funds that are unaccounted for, and hold all individuals involved responsible. If Georgetown or anyone at Georgetown has retaliated against Love Saxa by hijacking its donations and giving them to groups that oppose its mission and identity, then no student, alumnus, or donor can trust the university’s integrity.”
The ethical dimensions of this case are delicate, to say the least. On the one hand, mishandling of funds is morally unacceptable, especially if the intent was to make a statement to oppose Love Saxa. But that is not the only moral question in this case. While harm may have been done to Love Saxa (if the donation misappropriation is proven to be intentional), their own actions have already caused harm.
First, Love Saxa’s statements against LGBTQ persons, while perhaps true to Catholic teachings, are harmful to LGBTQ students on campus. We should never stop asking ourselves what violence is being done in the exercising of “free speech” by privileged groups of people. Second, Love Saxa’s choice of explicitly anti-LGBTQ legal representation is yet another means of targeting the school’s queer-identifying students. The pro-family group has every right to investigate this situation, but they need not choose a group that has historically opposed LGBTQ people.
As a Catholic university, Georgetown should aim to protect its marginalized communities, a “preferential option” for its most vulnerable students.
—Lizzie Sextro, New Ways Ministry, February 9, 2018