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Aquinas College cancels Out Poet/Activist Stacey Ann Chin appearance

February 18, 2011

Yesterday, GRIID received an anonymous document from someone connected to Aquinas College. The document expresses concerns about a growing pattern of censorship at Aquinas College.

The campus was scheduled to host out poet/activist Stacey Ann Chin on February 24, but her presentation was cancelled. Based on the anonymous letter is appears that Chin was cancelled due to her being an out Lesbian activist. This is consistent with previous speakers who were either from the LGBTQ community or who were going to speak on LGBTQ issues and had their talks cancelled.

In 2008, Dr. John Corvino, an LGBTQ rights activist was scheduled to give a lecture at Aquinas College. The lecture was cancelled and students and community activists found another venue for Corvino to speak.

In March of 2009, Aquinas would not allow the feminist performance of The Vagina Monologues to take place on campus. As a response students and artists organized The Jane Doe Project as a way of challenging silence around violence against women.

This writer contacted the President’s office at Aquinas College, the assistant to the President and the Provost’s office to get a response to why Stacey Ann Chin’s performance was cancelled. None of those people were available and I was forced to leave a voice mail message. I also contact the Women’s Studies Center to see what they might know and was told that I should contact the President’s office.

For people who are concerned about free speech and inclusivity we would encourage you to contact the President’s office at Aquinas by calling 632-2881 or sending an E-mail to The Anonymous Letter we received can be viewed by clicking here.

There is also a video that the Anonymous Letter included, which is worth looking at.


9 Comments leave one →
  1. Rick permalink
    February 19, 2011 1:27 am

    Hi ,

    This is upsetting and unfortunate. Expressing diverse views adds to greater awareness of our relationship with one and other. It keeps conversation open.

    I do have one question though . Do the rights of free speech apply to private colleges like aquinas, calvin,cornerstone… etc. ? or just to public institutions?

    I know Aquinas puts itself out there as being more liberal , but it is a private catholic college.

  2. Passionphd permalink
    February 19, 2011 2:36 pm

    Must stuck to be in the Women’s Studies program there. “Today our guest speaker, here to educate students on the history of reproductive rights, is Phyllis Shafly. Next month, to educate students on the diverse range of human sexual experience, and the social construction of gender and sexuality, is Maggie Gallagher.”

    To address the commenter above – private colleges have the right to discriminate against views that they deem opposed to their mission.

    But just because they can should not mean they should. Stacy Ann Chin is a thoughtful and provocative performer that speaks to the intersectionality of gender, race, colonialism. Once again, such paternalistic narrow mindedness leaves their students underserved.

    I would be wary to hire their graduates as an employer, wondering what other core educational values these students were being denied. Do they even let their science faculty teach evolution???

  3. Joe Spaulding permalink
    February 19, 2011 7:10 pm

    They are within their legal rights as an institution to cancel the performance as a private college. The problem is they advertise themselves as an inclusive liberal arts institution, and deemphasize the Catholic aspect of the institution in the recruitment literature. It is important to note that Staceyann Chin performed ON CAMPUS in February of 2001, and the controversial issues policy cited as the reason for the cancellation emphasizes the fact that the words spoken by speakers who are guests of the campus DOES NOT represent either the will of the School or the will of the Church.

  4. Ashley permalink
    February 19, 2011 10:11 pm

    Anyone from Aquinas involved with this event please contact me, I am interested to see if we could just move this to a new venue.

  5. Ashley permalink
    February 19, 2011 10:12 pm

    atate313 @

  6. Aaminah permalink
    February 24, 2011 2:38 am

    I also find it disturbing and insulting – as well as incompetent – for them to have booked her to begin with and then cancel. Better to just not book people they find offensive – which is a different issue – than to book someone and then cancel. It’s not like Chin isn’t out and proud. It’s not like she is misrepresenting herself. Yes, a private school has the right to censor, but if they were smart they would do so by not even inviting people they don’t wish to support. And if they had the ethics & morals they are on a high horse about right now, they wouldn’t be afraid of different views being presented.

  7. February 28, 2011 10:20 pm

    An institution that so openly and obviously stands against queer people and works against our ability to organize and communicate is a disgusting blemish on the community. The thought that this shit-factory of a school is churning out graduates by the thousands in my home town is appalling.

    An interesting side-note, unrelated but defiantly funny:

    I’m not sure if it’s still the case, but a year or so back, Aquinas had a policy of no opposite-sex visitors in dorms past a certain hour. This, of course, made Aquinas dorms a great place for folks not looking for opposite-sex visitors past a certain hour to meet up, if you know what I mean. I wonder if the administration knows that it’s enabling all kinds of awesome queer hook ups.


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  2. Poet/Activist who was censored from Aquinas College last year, is featured speaker at GVSU Take Back the Night event – October 3 « Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

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