The University of Washington will provide event space for the Northwest Pro-Life Conference to be held in June of 2023.
The University of Washington Tacoma has reserved an on-campus space rental for the Northwest Pro-Life Conference (NWPLC) to take place on June 24, 2023. Though the University states it does not endorse this event, the space has been reserved and the event is scheduled to be held as planned.
Many students, staff, and faculty of UWT have questioned how this event has gotten approval to be held on campus, particularly in light of the organization’s clear attack on protected human rights in Washington state.
The WA State Department of Health states: “Abortion is legal and protected in Washington state. Abortions have been legal in Washington since 1970, and that has not changed even after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.”
Whereas the NWPLC website states “Pro-abortion activists came unhinged over the Dobbs (v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization) decision and are stopping at nothing to continue killing preborn children. We will not stand around and allow the place we call our home to become a safe haven for killing innocent human beings.”
Outside of the obvious lack of knowledge on the medical procedure, this organization is actively harming the UWT community by attempting to take away the civil rights of individuals on campus and elsewhere.
When Ledger staff asked University representatives about how this event was allowed to be held on the UWT campus, the University provided the following excerpt:
“It is important to note the University is obligated by law to remain content neutral and neither promote nor oppose political views. UW Tacoma is neither hosting nor sponsoring this event in any way. There should be no implication that the UW in any way endorses the views of groups that lawfully rent space on campus. No public funds are used for these kinds of events and all use of facilities is in accordance with state ethics laws and the Washington Administrative Code. As a university, it is our responsibility to provide open and inclusive environments for our communities. We also must uphold free speech that does not violate laws or policies.”
UWT has used this statement to validate providing space rental to an organization and event that blatantly lobbies and indoctrinates community members into fighting to take away the civil rights and access to life-saving medical procedures of UWT staff, students and faculty. This stance inherently contradicts UWT’s motto of “You belong here.” It leaves many of us in the UWT community wondering, who is this institution saying really belongs here?
If the university is unwilling to truly protect the campus community from harmful organizations entering campus, why would students continue coming to UWT for their education? In the wake of historically low enrollment numbers, and budget cuts reaching up to 40% across all departments due to low enrollment numbers, it seems imperative the University put more effort and accountability into protecting students than partnering with organizations that function with the purpose of stripping away the protected rights of students and the greater campus community.
With sustained performative action, coupled with the decision to provide rental space for events that advocate for abolishing protected human rights, UWT, as an institution, is sending a clear message to those who make up the UWT community.
That message being, “You DON’T belong here.”
UWT students have spoken out against this conference being held at the University in a current online survey. Sentiments expressed by students* include:
“I feel deeply betrayed by my college. During a time period where reproductive rights are in legal peril and people are dying because they cannot access the care they need, UWT has decided to offer up our college campus as a meeting place for a group actively working to eliminate my right to bodily autonomy. By doing this, UWT’s administration is sending the message that they support the forced birth movement and oppose our right to determine when and how we become parents.”
“Why is our school entertaining a conference that literally makes me feel like my personal safety is being threatened?”
“I don’t appreciate pro life conferences being held on school grounds. Political or not, money or no money it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Schools are meant to be non political and all voices heard but in the cases of students not outside organizations.”
“This is bullshit. If I knew our institution was so willing to support organizations such as this, I would have taken my money elsewhere. This makes me feel ashamed to be a student leader at UWT.”
The Ledger feels it is important for the voices of students, staff, and faculty to be heard and respected, especially in light of events that compromise the safety of campus and the integrity of this institution.
The UWT Progressive Student Union/Young Democratic Socialists of America have published a change.org petition that addresses concerns about UWT hosting the NW Pro-Life Event, and requests actionable steps to be taken from the University. The petition states:
“By providing a space for this conference, UWT risks being perceived as implicitly endorsing its politics. This petition is a call for UWT administration to make clear that they do not endorse this event and to address student concerns over existing campus event policies.”
The petition link can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/demand-the-university-of-washington-to-acknowledge-the-northwest-pro-life-conference
In an effort to elevate the UWT community voice, and advocate for a truly safe campus, a four question survey has been created to anonymously receive student, staff and faculty feedback on the NW Pro-Life Conference being held on the UWT campus. To help inform actionable steps to create a truly safe campus for all, please visit the link below to fill out a short four question survey about your feelings on the Northwest Pro-Life Conference being hosted at UWT.
*Student statements have been left anonymous to protect the safety of UWT students. This consideration has been made due to concerns about retaliation from the University and/or event organizers.