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Catholic U. Won't Recognize NAACP Chapter

Catholic U. Won't Recognize NAACP Chapter

Sat Jun 5,11:11 AM ET

By CANDACE SMITH, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The president of the NAACP is criticizing a decision by Catholic University of America not to recognize a chapter of the civil rights group on campus. "It is outright discrimination and intolerance all rolled into one," NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said Friday, just outside the campus and surrounded by about 20 activists and student chapter leaders from other universities.

He said it was the first time in decades that a university had not allowed a student chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (news - web sites). He threatened to sue if the group was unable to come to an agreement with the Roman Catholic university.

The university rejected a student's attempt to start a chapter in April on the ground that the campus already had two groups that represent black students: the Black Organization of Students at Catholic University of America and Minority Voices, an umbrella group for minority organizations.

"He did not demonstrate in the view of university officials ... that this chapter of the NAACP would fill a need that isn't already being met by organizations in existence," said Victor Nakas, university spokesman.

William Jawando, 21, who tried to start the chapter, dismissed the school's reasoning, saying there are no civil rights groups on campus.

"I think they're scared of the NAACP name and protests," said Jawando, a recent undergraduate, who will attend the university's law school in the fall.

School administrators also raised concern about the group's support of the April 25 "March for Women's Lives," an abortion rights rally. Nakas said student groups are not allowed to advocate positions that are contrary to the teachings of the church, which opposes abortion. But he said that was not the main reason for rejecting the NAACP chapter.

Official NAACP policy does not take a side in the abortion debate, Mfume said.

Nakas said the university's president, the Rev. David M. O'Connell, hopes to meet with Mfume next week. University officials plan to meet with students interested in the issue this fall. Jawando said about 30 students were committed to joining the campus group.

The NAACP has chapters at 150 colleges, including Georgetown, Fordham and St. John's universities and Trinity College "” all Catholic schools.

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