University of Dayton: UN Special Rapporteur’s Speech Canceled By Administrators Over Views on Reproduction

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Dayton

In October 2021, the University of Dayton’s faculty-led Human Rights Center announced that Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, would be one of the keynote speakers at the center’s biennial conference. Weeks later, the university’s administration unilaterally disinvited Mofokeng from the conference — where she was to speak about “Covid’s impact on human rights” — stating that her “​​background and work related to reproduction is inconsistent with the University’s Catholic, Marianist mission and identity.” The December conference went on without Mofokeng. On February 9, 2022, FIRE wrote to UD, explaining that the cancellation of Mofokeng’s speech contravened the university’s published commitments to freedom of expression. The next day, UD responded arguing that it canceled its faculty members’ invitation of  Mofokeng because of her work as an abortion provider, not based on her viewpoint. FIRE responded February 15, explaining that the disinvitation was indeed viewpoint based because had Mofokeng spoke at UD to explain that she was now against abortion, she likely would not have been disinvited and that, regardless, its actions infringed on faculty academic freedom to select speakers without administrative interference.