Statement Regarding the Addressing of Controversial Issues

In its undergraduate programs the university is committed to the development of the student through a liberal arts education within the living Catholic tradition and through a high degree of personal attention in a spiritually and intellectually stimulating campus environment. ... In all of its academic programs and other educational enterprises the university is committed to meeting the diverse, changing needs of the community. ... The university fosters in the student an energetic, thoughtful approach to the challenges of contemporary life.

- from the University of St. Thomas Mission Statement

The university's educational program ... strives to give a student a foundation for clear thinking and expression.

- from the University of St. Thomas Convictions

... it is evident that besides the teaching, research and services common to all universities, a Catholic university, by institutional commitment, brings to its task the inspiration and light of the Christian message. In a Catholic university, therefore, Catholic ideals, attitudes and principles penetrate and inform university activities in accordance with the proper nature and autonomy of these activities. In a word, being a university and Catholic, it must be both a community of scholars representing various branches of human knowledge and an academic institution in which Catholicism is vitally present and operative.

- from Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities (Paragraph 14)

By its very nature, a university develops culture through its research, helps to transmit the local culture to each succeeding generation through its teaching and assists cultural activities through its educational services. It is open to all human experience and is ready to dialogue with and learn from any culture. A Catholic university shares in this, offering the rich experience of the church's own culture. In addition, a Catholic university, aware that human culture is open to revelation and transcendence, is also a primary and privileged place for a fruitful dialogue between the Gospel and culture.

- from Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities (Paragraph 43)

In its Mission Statement and supporting documents, the University of St. Thomas commits itself to its Catholic character and to valuing the diversity of viewpoints reflective of a larger society. Diversity is complex, and is best achieved through intentional planning, listening, reflecting and interacting.

St. Thomas values its role as a diocesan, Catholic university. The university also recognizes and accepts its responsibility to respond to the dynamic tension that exists between the challenges of contemporary living and educating within the living Catholic tradition.

The university exists as an environment which not only allows, but encourages, members of its community to ask questions and openly explore challenging ideas in their personal search for truth. Open forums through which controversial issues may be addressed in a responsible and educative manner will be available. More important, the university will ensure that these dialogues occur in an arena free of fear of reproach or reprisal.

While the university cherishes free expression, it recognizes the difference between freedom of ideas and freedom of behavior. In discussion and debate, members and guests of the university community are expected to treat one another with respect and dignity.

Some of the implications of this statement are:

  1. The University of St. Thomas is committed to open dialogue about controversial issues.
  2. The university will provide in-class and co-curricular opportunities for discussion and debate about controversial issues.
  3. The university believes that public dialogue around challenging issues does not diminish its fundamental commitment as a Catholic university.
  4. The university has the responsibility to educate members of this community about the beliefs and moral values that make us Catholic.
  5. The university will refuse official recognition to any group or organization which promotes a position contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church.
  6. The university welcomes to the campus students, faculty and staff from diverse cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds. It values the perspectives they can provide on issues of common interest.
  7. The university will strive to ensure that each member of this community receives respect.
  8. The university employs individuals who are committed to the ideals stated in this document.