The Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) has determined that the Voice for Life’s proposed “sidewalk counseling” activities are not in violation of the University policy on harassment, contrary to the SGA Executive Board’s decision.
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity Caroline Laguerre-Brown explained her decision yesterday in response to an email from the club’s president Andrew Guernsey on March 26.
“My view is that the proposed ‘sidewalk counseling’ activities, as described in your email, would not violate these university policies. A student group’s distribution of literature and advocacy of its viewpoint, in the manner set out in your email, would not constitute harassment within the meaning of these policies. In fact, such conduct is fully in accord with the university’s robust commitment to the values of free expression and open debate that is articulated in these policies,” Laguerre-Brown wrote.
Laguerre-Brown detailed how the Anti-Harassment policy and the Undergraduate Student Code of Conduct promote the free and open exchange of ideas. The Anti-Harassment Policy specifically states that it is “not the University’s intent in promulgating this policy to inhibit free speech or the free communication of ideas by members of the academic community”.
With the Voice For Life v. JHU SGA trial approaching, the SGA Executive board has issued the following statement: “We are currently engaged with the SGA Judiciary Committee to determine whether or not the SGA was right in its denial of club status to the proposed group Voice For Life. We stand by this student-led process and await the results.”
Kyra Toomre, co-Counselor representing SGA in the trial, declined to comment on the OIE’s decision.
“We cannot make any comments beyond what we submitted to The News-Letter and what we JHU Broadcasted because each one of us is an individual and we cannot comment for all of SGA,” Toomre said.
Guernsey applauded the OIE’s ruling on sidewalk counseling.
“This was all merely a pretext for SGA’s desperate attempts to prevent pro-life voices from being heard on campus, but Voice for Life is hopeful that the SGA Judiciary will finally do the right thing, and follow the Office of Institutional Equity’s lead to enforce Johns Hopkins’ institutional commitment to free speech,” Guernsey wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
Junior Schaefer Whiteaker will act as Provisional Chief Justice of the SGA Judiciary Committee in the Voice for Life vs. SGA trial.