John’s votes against new officer to defend freedom of speech

first_imgSt John’s have dropped plans to introduce a ‘religions & beliefs’ officer to protect students’ freedom of speech.The original motion argued that those who hold certain religions or beliefs are “at risk of unjust discrimination, yet have no liberation position in the JCR”. It said the role was necessary after a series of incidents of alleged “religious discrimination” at Oxford.The motion passed narrowly at its first reading two weeks ago, but failed to pass at a JCR meeting on Sunday. Students instead passed a motion to endorse the college’s freedom of speech policy.The original said: “students are entitled to hold personal beliefs and participate in open discussion about those beliefs without fear of being banned from college/ JCR events, being discriminated against, or having their events hijacked by protesters.”The motion called for the creation of a Religions and Beliefs Officer, who was to have a budget of £300, with the responsibility of “representing all the religions and beliefs held by students in the JCR”. A separate ‘Religions & Beliefs sub-committee’, consisting of five to ten people, would be set up to “represent the range of beliefs held by students in the JCR.”At the meeting two weeks ago, JCR members questioned whether the religions and beliefs officer could adequately represent the faiths of all College students.Concerns were also raised about the religions & beliefs subcommittee potentially becoming dominated by Christians, the most common faith in the College, and therefore not representing the beliefs of other students.“One individual would not be able to represent all the religions and beliefs that the students hold,” one student said.Another said: “As the dominant belief in the college is Christianity, and many other beliefs have far fewer students, how would you ensure that there is representation on the sub-committee from these other groups.”Despite opposition, the motion narrowly passed in a secret ballot, with 26 votes in favour, 24 against, and eight abstentions.This Sunday, the religions and beliefs motion was put to a vote again, as it was constitutionally mandated to pass twice. However, at its second reading, the motion failed, with 34 votes for, 44 against and seven abstentions.Instead, an amended freedom of belief motion, noting: “there has been some controversy recently within the JCR concerning what is acceptable as freedom of speech” and resolving to “endorse the College freedom of speech policy”, passed almost unanimously, with 81 votes in favour, one vote against, and two abstentions.The initial two-part freedom of belief motion noted concerns about specific incidents on campus which had been “interpreted by some as religious discrimination”.The motion highlighted the Balliol JCR committee banning representatives of the Christian Union from its freshers’ fair in early October, over concerns their presence could lead to “alienation or micro-aggression” for new students.The decision was condemned by a JCR motion which accused the JCR of “barring the participation of specific faith-based organisations” and describing the step as “a violation of free speech [and] a violation of religious freedom”. St John’s JCR committee declined to comment on the motions.last_img read more

Dear mom with a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis

first_imgLifesite News 13 June 2013Dear mom who just received a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis,I know how you feel.Except — unlike you, I was holding my new baby, Kate, in my arms when I found out. She was wrapped in a blanket, looking up at me as I cried, listening to the Neonatologist on staff tell me — only minutes after she was born — that she had Down syndrome. And what that meant.He said that it meant she had an extra chromosome. And that she would have learning delays. He said that it meant she was significantly predisposed to certain medical conditions, including congenital heart defects — and that we should get her heart tested right away. He said that it meant she had low muscle tone and may not be able to breastfeed. He said that it meant she would do things on a different schedule than other kids.And in those first few days, after hearing those statistics, talking to doctors and researching online, I thought I knew what it “meant” to have a child with Down syndrome. And quite frankly, I was devastated.And so it is with you.But let me tell you — from one mother to another — those facts are not what it means to have a child with Down syndrome.READ MORE read more