King's Principal's message to the community on Veritas event
January 16, 2020
To the King's Community,
The Veritas series for Faith and Culture is an important speaker series at King’s organized by King’s Campus Ministry. The mission of the series is to “endeavor to foster learning and dialogue by gathering our community together, as we seek to live lives of faith and justice.” We have had some remarkable speakers on campus via this series, including, but not limited to, Senator Murray Sinclair on "The Future of Truth and Reconciliation" and Father James Martin on "Showing Respect and Welcome to LGBT People in the Church."
Veritas helps us, as a community, discuss uncomfortable truths. This is vital to our life as a Catholic university. Through this series we create space for open discussion, debate and dialogue.
Most recently, the Veritas event of the screening of the film Unplanned was an attempt to address the polarizing issue of abortion. Showing this film is consistent with King’s mission to be a place where controversial topics can be presented and discussed. King’s, like any other university, is where challenging political, social, and religious topics can be discussed in an environment that is respectful and safe. Open dialogue and debate about uncomfortable truths is part of our mission. We are not advocating for any side of this debate but rather being a vehicle for the conversation.
Uncomfortable truth discussions are not designed to make people feel badly or hurt. I regret that people in our community have experienced anxiety, stress and frustration as a function of this event. As Principal, I take responsibility for this and will strive to create a more open format for future events.
A peaceful and respectful demonstration was staged by some of our students and faculty as well as members of ProChoice London before the film was shown. People were invited to participate before, during, or in the discussion period after film screening. For example, the protestors used space on campus to make their protest signs prior to the event. They also came inside the Student Life Centre (without signs or chanting) during the screening.
Security, including campus police, was present as it was for other speakers in the series, including Father James Martin.
We were creating a space for different points of view by screening the film. We did this by:
- Allowing both sides to participate in a discussion after the film and preventing no one from speaking during the open dialogue.
- Engaging students in more thoughtful conversations.
- Taking on difficult issues.
There was some confusion generated in the media between where King’s stands and where Campus Ministry stands on issues such as abortion. The presentation of the film and the belief of life beginning at conception is the stance of Campus Ministry and not of King’s as a whole. King’s employees, faculty and students do not need to prescribe to the tenets of the Catholic Church. King’s does not have a position on abortion.
Moving forward, to foster greater consultation within the community, I am asking the Religious Life committee, which includes students, faculty and staff, to explore how this group might be reorganized to support the work of Campus Ministry and the College as a whole.
We are a warm and welcoming academic community with a mandate to challenge the status quo. We provide the opportunity for our students to be engaged with many different perspectives which foster intellectual growth and cognitive moral development. Therefore, we will endeavor to continue to bring challenging and thought-provoking speakers to our campus where respectful debate and dialogue is encouraged.
Many of you have also expressed to me your concerns about ProLife demonstrations at the Epworth Ave. crosswalk. Those demonstrations occur on public property and are monitored by Campus Police. We do not endorse those demonstrations. They occur on the city sidewalk as well as on public property near Western and Victoria Hospital. As part of a free society, these demonstrators must abide by local laws. Further to this issue, we are creating rules of protest for the King’s campus.
Thank you in advance of your contributions to our community and I look forward to being stronger together as we build a campus where everyone has a voice.
David C. Malloy, PhD
Principal, King's University College