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University of San Diego Bans Conservative Speaker, Calls Beliefs "Grossly Offensive"

August 21, 2023

Image Credit:

Gage Skidmore

University of San Diego (USD), a private Catholic university, has blocked the USD College Republicans from hosting the conservative speaker Matt Walsh, from the Daily Wire, for a lecture on campus this fall. The university is claiming that Walsh's beliefs are "grossly offensive" and would create an "unsafe" environment on campus for "different populations of people."

Last semester, the campus Republican club filed a request for funding from the student government to host Walsh, but the student government unanimously voted to reject the funding in full.

“As a Catholic institution, I do think that it is one of the most important things that we hold our Catholic faith first and if he does not align with the values of the Catholic church then that is something we should consider regarding allocating funding,” said student Senator Isabella Sevilla, a leftist who helped organize a drag show on campus last semester.

Other senators cited calls from left-leaning medical organizations for Walsh to face prosecution from the Department of Justice as reasons for rejecting funding.

One senator stated: “You say that you value freedom of expression, but do you really think people would feel comfortable to express themselves with someone who is known notoriously for that [What is a Woman?] movie and also for being the recipient of the Transphobe of Year 2022 Award?”

Mackenzie Hoie, Communications Director of the California College Republicans and Vice President of the USD chapter, says that the Catholic university is directly attacking Catholic beliefs by labelling Walsh offensive — and could be opening themselves up to legal action.

"The university has a free speech policy which represents an agreement with the student body, and they are violating that agreement by discriminating against and censoring conservatives," said Hoie.

"Walsh has gained notoriety for his work questioning and confronting transgender ideology in his film 'What is a Woman?' — and the university taking issue with the idea that there are two genders and that you can't change your gender is contrary to the Catholic faith and church messaging," she continued.

Hoie points to a statement from Pope Francis in 2016, which said that people "need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created, for thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. An appreciation of our body as male or female is also necessary for our own self-awareness in an encounter with others different from ourselves. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment."

"God calls us to love each other — but it is loving and in line with the Catholic faith to speak truth and the real 'grossly offensive' thing here is USD using a false interpretation of our faith as an excuse to censor conservatives," explained Hoie.

After rejection from the student government, the College Republicans went through the event approval process with the university, aiming to raise funding to host Walsh independently. However, club president Alyssa Jackson says that Assistant Vice President for Student Life Byron Howlett refused to hear her argument that Walsh’s beliefs are in line with Catholic doctrine. Howlett told her that he doesn’t agree with Catholic beliefs and that Walsh’s “grossly offensive” views would not be tolerated on campus.

According to Jackson, Howlett said: “The university is in full support of freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry… that’s the basis of a university .... But it’s also a delicate balancing act because we have a duty to protect our community members as well. In that case, that usurps that freedom of inquiry and freedom of expression.”

"But USD is no stranger to hosting controversial speakers that could make conservatives uncomfortable — so this is absolutely discriminating against conservative and Catholic beliefs," said Hoie.

Hoie points to recent examples of the university hosting Black Lives Matter Founder Patrisse Cullors, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Chelsea Clinton — leftist speakers with beliefs contrary to Catholic doctrine.

Jennifer Lee, director of student activities at USD, claimed that Walsh would need to denounce his “transphobic” beliefs and “change his ways” in order to be allowed on campus. And despite admitting she hasn't seen Walsh's film ("What is a Woman?"), she declared that the material was “grossly offensive at an extreme level.”

"It's really sad to see a supposedly Catholic university act this way and target conservative and Catholic beliefs," said Hoie.

"But we are hopeful we can still host Walsh, and that's why we're calling on alumni, Catholics, conservatives, and concerned San Diegans to call and email the university to make your complaints about this heard — public pressure works," she concluded.

You can email or call the university president, Dr. James Harris, to voice your opinion at or at (619) 260-4520.

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