March 29, 2019
Recently, two politically conservative organizations and several conservative Christian news outlets have suggested that University of Northwestern (UNW) has changed its biblical position on the sanctity of life. This perception is based upon a series of misunderstandings and miscommunications.
As we were working with student leaders of a specific student club regarding their desire to invite a particular speaker to come to UNW, an email meant for internal communication as part of an ongoing dialogue between staff and students was distributed publicly. Initially, the university sought to protect those staff and students involved in the misunderstanding by limiting our response; however, it has become clear with the amount of activity on social media and the opinions shared by some conservative news outlets that we must further address the situation.
As educators, we understand that in the midst of life, miscommunication and misunderstandings do happen. Words expressed in conversations or emails or notes may be open to different interpretations depending upon our understanding or involvement in the situation.
As followers of Christ, how we handle miscommunications or misunderstandings reflects our faith in and relationship with God. We need to extend grace and understanding and reach a conclusion that builds the body of Christ, not weakens it.
The event that happened recently at University of Northwestern is an excellent example of miscommunication or misunderstanding between staff and students. What was meant to be one-on-one discussion between educators and a group of student leaders was shared publicly, generating negative and destructive comments that question the university’s commitment to its historic theology as well as its commitment to God’s Word.
Let it be known, University of Northwestern has not wavered or altered its theological foundation regarding the sanctity of life. To make a judgment or publicly state an assumption based upon social media posts or from news outlets that University of Northwestern is altering its historic position in regards to the sanctity of life is wrong.
Also, the university apologizes for the use of inflammatory and demeaning words by a university official that were part of an informal and internal email regarding a specific speaker’s style. It was wrong to do so and the university has addressed this.
It is my hope and prayer that this unfortunate breakdown in communication will lead all of us to follow the wise words of the Apostle Paul, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29 NASB). At University of Northwestern, we are committed to building up the body of Christ by remaining firm in our commitment to God’s Holy Word and the rich tradition of orthodoxy that has become synonymous with our name.
Alan S. Cureton, Ph.D.
University of Northwestern – St. Paul Official Statement
Roseville, Minn., March 11, 2019—University of Northwestern – St. Paul (UNW) has received many questions regarding an article published on Tuesday, March 5 regarding a student club’s request for Star Parker to speak at an on-campus event. There has been a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the circumstances and communication concerning the invitation.
University of Northwestern did not ban Ms. Parker from speaking on campus. Ms. Parker has spoken on our campus twice before to share her testimony. The student club responsible for inviting her, Young America’s Foundation (YAF), did not follow policies and procedures that are in place for student club events. Therefore, because proper approval was not obtained, the student club was told they could not host the event.
In addition, university administration had significant concerns regarding Ms. Parker’s contract, which contained certain requirements the university could not accommodate. One component of the contract stated UNW would be required to open the event to the general public and YAF would hold UNW responsible for removing people disrupting the event, requiring us to hire off-duty law enforcement to manage potential threats and/or disruptions. The university has not been required to have this type of security for previous events, which indicates YAF's expectation that a disruption may occur. This concern was referenced in the email quote from the UNW staff member to the student club leader related to hosting "sensationalized" speakers. Our top priority will always be the safety of our students and staff members.
Due to the above misunderstandings, our stance on certain issues was not accurately represented. Northwestern is unwavering in our biblical foundation, therefore, we are passionately against abortion and take a pro-life stance—as referenced in our Declaration of Christian Community.
This is a learning opportunity both for students, as they understand the business side of social causes, and for the university, helping us to better understand how to prepare and support students in learning how to make a difference in their world.
University of Northwestern – St. Paul is a nondenominational Christian university in St. Paul, Minn. With a biblical worldview integrated into all programs, UNW provides a unique educational experience for students who want to combine faith and education. UNW offers 75+ areas of undergraduate study, six master's degrees, and online and early college programs. Northwestern Media, a ministry of the university, operates 17 Christian radio stations throughout the Midwest with a total listenership of more than one million listeners.
Visit unwsp.edu for more information.
3003 Snelling Avenue North
St. Paul, MN 55113-1598
800-692-4020 | 651-631-5100 | unwsp.edu