Pa. college president trashes 900 copies of paper because of safe-sex editorial

PENNSYLVANIA — The president of La Roche College, aprivate Catholic school in Pittsburgh, destroyed almost 900 copies of a studentnewspaper earlier this month because of an editorial in the paper that advocatedteaching students safe sex, said Nicole Johnson, editor of The La RocheCourier.The issue was distributed April 14 and confiscated April 17,the same day the college held an open house for prospective students and theirparents. Johnson said she was told by the college president, Monsignor WilliamKerr, that he thought the editorial would be misconstrued by the visitors as theopinion of the college.Johnson said Kerr told her that he had to“consider the reputation of the institution.”Johnson saidshe wrote the editorial because the school provides information on “where todrop off your unwanted baby,” but no information about preventing an unwantedpregnancy. “I understand that parents often contest to the collegeoffering condoms to students, but it’s time for the college to take a moralstand,” her editorial stated.Officials at the college did not respond torequests for comment.In an April 21 Pittsburgh Post-Gazettearticle, the school’s spokesman, Ken Service, said the editorial was atodds with La Roche’s religious values.“On campus, people arefamiliar with the student newspaper and would recognize that this particularcolumn was an individual’s opinion and not reflective of an institutionalopinion,” Service said. “There was concern that parents ofprospective students might not recognize that.”Johnson said shewas disappointed by the school’s decision to remove the newspapers, butshe said that because the school is private, it had the right to remove theschool-funded student publication from the distributionracks.“There was a lack of respect for education in the decisionmade,” Johnson said. “I don’t see any reflection of theCatholic values as far as in the decision that was made. I think it’sdisgraceful.”She said that “while the college had the rightto [destroy the papers] and, constitutionally, I don’t have any rightsagainst it, I do think it was morally wrong.”Johnson said thearticle was meant to spark educational discourse. “Unfortunately,I was silenced instead of allowing the opinion to be rebutted,” Johnsonsaid. “I have gotten nothing but support [from other students and facultymembers]. Nobody has said that what I did was wrong, but there’s nothing Ican do about it. I’ll chalk it up as a learningexperience.”