Gonzaga University upholds ban on controversial play

Dr. Thayne McCulloh.
Dr. Thayne McCulloh.


The Cardinal Newman Society reported on March 30 that Gonzaga University is upholding its ban on the controversial play “The Vagina Monologues” being performed at the Washington school.

Gonzaga University's interim president, Dr. Thayne McCulloh, decided on March 19 to uphold the 2002 ban of the Monologues when students led by a faculty sponsor from the school's Women's and Gender Studies proposed bringing the play to the Spokane campus this year.

“As many Catholic colleges and universities work to renew and strengthen their Catholic identity, your decision not to reverse Gonzaga’s policy reassures Catholic families that Gonzaga continues on that path,” wrote Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick J. Reilly to Dr. McCulloh. “Thank you!”

In 2002, then-president of Gonzaga Fr. Robert Spritzer banned the Monologues along with the school's Board of Trustees who supported the priest's decision after taking a vote on the issue. In a press release on Tuesday, the Cardinal Newman Society called the play “vulgar” and said that it positively describes lesbian activity, and ultimately reduces “sexuality to selfish pleasure.”

Those in support of the Monologues held protests on campus March 19, with some duct taping their mouths and holding signs that read “I am a Catholic and I support 'The Vagina Monologues,'” reported the school's Gonzaga Bulletin.

In Dr. McCulloh's email to the University community following his decision to uphold the ban, the interim president said that he “could not ignore the historical context that informs review of the current proposal” to bring the play to campus.

He also pointed out how significant it was that the Board of Trustees was involved with the ban in 2002 since they “rarely vote on these types of matters but when they do it is often considered a significant statement, and most frequently a statement of policy.” The interim president added that it is “obvious” to him that some of the Trustees see their earlier vote as “having affirmed not only the president's decision, but the institution's position, in relating to this specific production.”

The Cardinal Newman Society said on Tuesday that the organization V-Day has reported performances at Catholic colleges and universities of “The Vagina Monologues” are down to 13 in 2010 from 32 in 2003.

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