It was reported last week that an effort by a group of students to form a Racial Justice Student Club at the University of Dallas was tabled by student government leaders after they received pushback from students and faculty, who were concerned that the group might be “divisive.” The motion was tabled reportedly following scrutiny of the group’s name and changes to its proposed charter.

Although the university administration has agreed to help the students plan an event for the next semester, the formation of the group through the student government is in doubt. Jonathan Friedman, program director for campus free speech at PEN America, said the following:

“It is always disappointing to see faculty and students intervening to prevent the formation of a student club. But against the national backdrop when conversations about race, racism, and racial justice have been stifled on campuses around the country, it is especially alarming to see a student effort dedicated to fostering constructive dialogue on these issues quashed. That some people consider the topics ‘divisive’ is hardly sufficient justification to deny students their right to assembly and association; in fact, wrestling with disagreement and dissent, and facilitating difficult but honest conversations should be a hallmark of the college experience. Those scrutinizing this student group’s formation should think twice about their justifications, and whether their efforts are staying true to the institution’s values.”