Univ women's center removes student's blog because it 'challenges' pro-choice view
- The University of Idaho Women's Center removed a pro-life student's blog post because it "challenge[d]" the center's views.
- Only after intense public pressure did the university apologize for the censorship and the women's center republished the post.
The University of Idaho Women’s Center blog backtracked on its decision not to publish a blog by a contributor who expressed views outside of those of mainstream feminism.
UI Women’s Center blog contributor and Students for Life leader Victoria Diloné recently submitted a piece titled "The Birth Control Pill: An Unethical and Eugenic History,” in which she discussed issues surrounding hormonal birth control and its marked history with the eugenics movement.
After her post was approved, written, and published, Diloné received an email from Women’s Center Director Lysa Salsbury informing her that the post would be removed from the website, according to Students for Life. Salsbury apologized, explaining that "feminism is the grounding philosophy undergirding the topics [they] allow on the blog,” even though she claimed the center tries "very hard to allow the writers’ voices and opinions to be expressed freely and without censorship."
"On more than one occasion, your personal views have been in direct conflict with one of the fundamental principles and tenets of feminism—that of choice,” the director wrote to the student. "Your article is not only not congruent with the Women’s Center’s views on the topic, it directly challenges them. As such, we cannot publish it. I’m sorry.”
Diloné says she was particularly surprised by this response because her views have never been a secret to her colleagues at the center.
“When I applied to the Center, I was upfront that I was active in the Students for Life group, and no one raised an issue then,” she told Students for Life. "It’s unfortunate that the Women’s Center has decided that feminism means we can’t debate issues like birth control or how to best help women. I will continue to share my beliefs and won’t be intimidated.”
The university originally stood behind Salsbury’s decision to remove the blog post on Nov. 20, saying “the University of Idaho Women’s Center bloggers are interns under the supervision of Lysa Salsbury and receive academic credit for their work. All topics must be approved by Lysa prior to publication – and are subject to revision, rejection or removal from the site at any point,” university spokeswoman Jodi Walker told Students for Life.
“Topics should elicit conversation and independent thinking but should not contain misinformation, strong bias or be based primarily on opinion. Blogs on this site must be congruent with the Women’s Center’s mission and values (link) and not be offensive to the readership.”
However, after the center spoke with Students for Life, Diloné’s article mysteriously reappeared on the blog. The post can now be found on the website, this time with a published date of Dec. 4.
In a statement to Campus Reform on Wednesday, the University of Idaho changed its tune, apologized to Diloné, and promised to make a better effort to support and encourage the free speech and expression of its students.
"On Nov. 20 the Women’s Center removed an article from its blog. This was wrong,” Walker wrote. "This blog should have allowed the free expression of student opinion. The university apologizes to the student, has reinstated the post and resolves to do better. The university values free speech and recognizes the importance of respectful discourse.”
The incident sparked an initiative by the university to review the operations of the Women’s Center, specifically its blog.
"The handling of this blog has brought to the university’s attention a need to re-evaluate how the Women’s Center, as part of the University of Idaho, manages its blog site. The issues discussed on this site are important. They are also personal and can evoke emotions that can be challenging in productive public discourse,” Walker told Campus Reform.
"There is a constant struggle for recognition of our rights as humans; rights to express sexuality, rights to gender identity, rights for equal treatment without bias, and more. That said, in this struggle, we can never lose sight of the fundamental right of personal expression, including the right to express the contrary view. Respectful discourse that advances our society requires not just expression, but also listening and a considered response. Ignoring the contrary view derails the discourse. In this light, we are reinstating the article in the blog. As with all articles in the blog, the content contains the views of the author, not necessarily those of the Women’s Center or the university as a whole," Walker wrote.
President of Students for Life of America Kristan Hawkins said that she was “appalled” by Diloné’s experience with the taxpayer-funded Women’s Center, accusing Salsbury of having a “1984 mindset when it comes to free expression."
“I hope that next time the Women’s Center will allow for free expression because they know it’s the right thing and not just because of a public backlash,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @celinedryan