Wednesday, November 7

I Stand With Beattie

There are a million and one ways I could dive into this one, and make no mistake, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to decide which way is the “right” way, if there is such a thing.

But you know what . . . ? F*ck it.

They can burn me at the stake for all I care. I wouldn’t be the first writer, and bad press is still good press, right . . . ?


So, let’s start with the “facts,” as best we know them.

The following article was published online by KPBS last Friday:

The University of San Diego revoked a British theology professor’s speaking invitation last week because the professor signed a letter supporting civil marriage rights for same-sex couples in the United Kingdom.

The visit was planned for more than a year.
Tina Beattie, a professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Roehampton in London, was scheduled to give a lecture on how women are represented in art depicting sin and redemption at the University of San Diego on November 8.
The Catholic university withdrew that invitation on October 27. In a letter, University President Mary Lyons explained it was because Beattie publicly dissents from the church’s moral teachings. That dissent, she wrote, is inconsistent with the mission school's Center for Catholic Thought and Culture, which was supposed to host Beattie's lecture, and "with the intentions of those who have financially supported the Center.” 

"I only question those questions of morals and social ethics that Catholic theologians have always questioned or we would never change," Beattie said. "We'd still be living as they did in the Middle Ages." 

Beattie said the withdrawn invitation raises concerns about the school's commitment to academic freedom. The University of San Diego did not respond to requests for an interview by this story's deadline.

Now, here is the University of San Diego’s "Mission and Vision" statement as posted on its website:

The University of San Diego is a Roman Catholic institution committed to advancing academic excellence, expanding liberal and professional knowledge, creating a diverse and inclusive community, and preparing leaders dedicated to ethical conduct and compassionate service. 

Core Values

The University of San Diego expresses its Catholic identity by witnessing and probing the Christian message as proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church. The University promotes the intellectual exploration of religious faith, recruits persons and develops programs supporting the University's mission, and cultivates an active faith community. It is committed to the dignity and fullest development of the whole person. The Catholic tradition of the University provides the foundation upon which the core values listed below support the mission.

Academic Excellence

The University pursues academic excellence in its teaching, learning and research to serve the local, national and international communities. The University possesses that institutional autonomy and integrity necessary to uphold the highest standards of intellectual inquiry and academic freedom. 


The University advances intellectual development; promotes democratic and global citizenship; cultivates an appreciation for beauty, goodness, and truth; and provides opportunities for the physical, spiritual, emotional, social, and cultural development of students. The University provides professional education grounded in these foundations of liberal learning while preparing students to understand complex issues and express informed opinions with courage and conviction. 


The University is committed to creating a welcoming, inclusive and collaborative community accentuated by a spirit of freedom and charity, and marked by protection of the rights and dignity of the individual. The University values students, faculty and staff from different backgrounds and faith traditions, and is committed to creating an atmosphere of trust, safety and respect in a community characterized by a rich diversity of people and ideas. 

Ethical Conduct

The University provides a values-based education that informs the development of ethical judgment and behavior. The University seeks to develop ethical and responsible leaders committed to the common good who are empowered to engage a diverse and changing world.

Compassionate Service

The University embraces the Catholic moral and social tradition by its commitment to serve with compassion, to foster peace, and to work for justice. The University regards peace as inseparable from justice and advances education, scholarship and service to fashion a more humane world.

And now, with all due respect to my alma mater . . . I call bullsh*t.
It’s the first word that comes to mind, frankly, along with a few more "colorful" expletives that I promised my mother I would stop using (or at least putting down in writing).

But I mean, c’mon, I can read – the hypocrisy is rampant.

Beyond said hypocrisy and the questions it raises about the university’s “commitment to academic freedom” is the fact that for some faculty, staff and students, this is a deeply personal affront.

I’m not gay, to be clear, but then I’m not 100% straight, either.

When I fall in love, I fall in love with a person . . . and at least once – once for sure – that person happened to be another girl.

To this day, it’s easy for me to imagine – had life gone a little differently – being with that girl in a loving, monogamous, open relationship . . .

It's almost as easy to imagine how members of the LBGT community in attendance at the University of San Diego (as well their families, who are ostensibly paying for them to go there) feel right about now.

As easy as it is to imagine, though, only makes it that much harder to swallow.

So why swallow then . . . ?

“That’s what she said!”

But seriously, without any further adieu or “smart-assery,” here is my open letter to President Mary Lyons, but one of hundreds written by those standing in solidarity with Professor Tina Beattie for what we know to be right:

Dear President Lyons,

By rescinding the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture’s invitation to Professor Beattie you have done the unconscionable by denying the next generation of leaders the opportunity and right to think for themselves and change the world accordingly.

When faced with one of the “complex ethical issues” you claim to be preparing young people for . . . you took the money and ran.

From your moral obligations as an educator and, worse, from your better judgment.

In doing so you have sorely disillusioned the body of both faculty and students that look to you as an example, and although it makes me sad to say, in this matter I too am ashamed to call myself a Torero.

Here’s hoping your donors' pockets are as deep as you think they are, because until this wrong has been righted the University of San Diego won’t get a single a cent from me, assuming as a starving writer I ever even make as much.

I hate to nickel and dime you, but apparently that’s all it takes . . .


Mallory Lynn Albrecht
Class of 2011

P.S. You can learn more about this situation as it develops at the student-run Facebook page Toreros Stand With Beattie :)


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