An internal email sent on Monday afternoon to all employees at the University of Northwestern—St. Paul shows a school in panicked disarray as it scrambles to protect its reputation following continued negative attention for banning pro-life speaker Star Parker.
April Moreton, UNWSP’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement complains in the email that “Northwestern is again in the news regarding the YAF student club and Star Parker issue. This is extremely disappointing as misinformation has been picked up and disseminated via Fox News,” Moreton adds, without providing any evidence for this baseless attack.
Moreton also writes that in response to the negative attention the school decided to “retain a public relations firm” and will be “taking steps to address this latest wave of negative publicity.”
Among the recommendations from the PR firm outlined in the email is “the least amount of phone conversations as possible.”
The all-staff email also includes a template response email that further attacks the YAF activists and refuses to answer the questions about why UNWSP banned Star Parker. It reads, in part: “An email sent to the student who wanted to host Ms. Parker was not clear about the beliefs of the University or the situation at hand,” and refers to the situation as a “miscommunication.” The template response continues saying “Northwestern is unwavering in its biblical foundation, and we are passionately against abortion and take a pro-life stance.”
At the time of the decision to keep Parker from appearing on campus, administrators wrote in emails that she was “sensationalized,” lamented about her “radically-held beliefs,” and concluded Parker wasn’t “a good fit for our community.” It’s befuddling that UNWSP believes these words are unclear, or that its community and others can’t see right through this gaslighting.
The form email responding to inquiries also, yet again, blame the YAF activists for the blowback being received by the university for the university’s fumble. It claims that the school has “learned from this situation and will be making changes to ensure our communication about on-campus events and speakers is clear to our students in the future. ”
The University of Northwestern—St. Paul needs to learn that rejecting conservative, pro-life speakers and then attempting to pretend they did no such thing is not a winning strategy. It needs to learn that open discussion and intellectually diverse speakers are key to education and that an attempt to censor certain ideas for being “sensationalized” or “radically-held” will only bring criticism. And most importantly, it needs to learn to be accountable for the words and actions of its administrators—rather than attack its own students for their earnest attempts to expand their education.