More than 100 Westmont College students walked out in protest this week just before a pro-life activist spoke during the Montecito school’s chapel service.
Students got up and left after the speaker — Lila Grace Rose, president and founder of Live Action — was introduced. Additionally, students are planning a similar walkout for another speaker today, Dr. Carl Trueman. Dr. Trueman will be discussing his book, “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self.” He is a lecturer hosted by the Gaede Institute.
Chapel is required for Westmont students, and the students walked out in protest on Monday, claiming that the invitation of speakers such as Ms. Rose and Dr. Trueman is in violation of Westmont’s diversity policy. An estimated 150 students out of about 1,400 people got up and left.
“Westmont’s commitments include diversification of our student body, faculty and staff; justice as demonstrated by righteousness and equity in our programs and community, becoming a more reconciling and unified community,” according to the college’s website. To learn more about Wesmont’s diversity commitment, go to westmont.edu/our-commitment-diversity.
“As followers of Jesus Christ, a goal of our Westmont College community is to learn how to live together with differences. In that spirit, we host a variety of guests to campus who express varying perspectives,” Irene Neller, the college’s vice president of enrollment, marketing and communications, told the News-Press.
“Chapel on Monday and tomorrow’s lecture are among those community experiences and conversations,” she said on Wednesday. “Truth-centered attitudes and others-centered actions remain our core commitments as our Community Life Statement articulates. Our college mission calls us to equip students to think deeply about many topics and issues, helping them wrestle with and seek a fuller understanding of varying issues, encouraging conversations, not limiting them.
“As a community, we examine the profound and complex moral and social questions and urge everyone to bring to these discussions a generous and
hospitable spirit with respect for all persons, and especially when caught between one’s own personal competing and sometimes contradictory expressions, beliefs or opinions.”
Students objected to there being no Q&A period following the speakers. “Following Monday’s chapel, there were several resources including counseling through CAPS (Office of Counseling and Psychological Services), Student Life support, spiritual life staff and a discussion group in the Dining Commons that was coordinated for deeper discussion,” said Ms. Neller.
Ms. Rose told the News-Press, “It is not hateful to disagree with a person or to speak against the harm they are committing against others. It is also a basic tenet of the Christian faith, from the Ten Commandments to Christ’s greatest commandment, that we are not supposed to kill innocent people. That we are called instead to sacrificially love our neighbor.
“Abortion is the direct and intentional killing of a human being and violates the fundamental human rights of the child it destroys,” Ms. Rose said.
Planned Parenthood of California Central Coast declined to comment for this story.