‘Silence is not education’: Regis Jesuit students organize walkout in protest of teacher firing over pro-choice essay

AURORA | A group of students from Regis Jesuit High School protested outside school Friday morning and held a walkout in response to the firing of the student magazine’s two faculty advisers.

The two advisers were fired over a pro-choice opinion piece that was published in the winter edition of the student-run magazine, Elevate. The administration said that it is in the process of reevaluating how the magazine is run to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Senior Samuel Opherman was outside the school on Friday morning with about 15 other students, holding a sign asking “Do you respect our dignity?”

He said he decided to protest to show support for the teachers and advocate for student voices. Regis Jesuit has created a “culture of fear” with the firing, he said.

“We don’t feel like the administration respects us,” Opherman said.

“Silence is not education!” “What happened to open growth?” “Our silence is so loud” read other signs that students held as they stood outside, wrapped in blankets and coats against the snow. Drivers passing by honked in support.

The protest was held during a student Mass. Students told the Sentinel they had been warned by the administration that they would receive a three-hour disciplinary punishment if they walked out of the service.

“We respect our students’ decision to use this form of protest to express their frustrations,” Regis Jesuit spokesperson Charisse Broderick King said in an email. “Exercising this right does come with responsibilities, and students who participated may be subject to consequences as outlined in the Student Handbook regarding unexcused absences.”

Controversy has been brewing at the private Catholic school in Aurora since the beginning of the spring semester, when students found out that the two advisers, who were also journalism and foreign language teachers, were fired due to the publication of the editorial, which was submitted by a student and advocated pro-choice views on abortion.

The magazine’s editorial policy stated that the student editorial board had final say over what was published and that faculty and administrators were not allowed to have prior review over the publication.

In a December letter announcing the retraction of the winter magazine, the school’s principal and president said that the school is “taking steps now to consider the magazine’s editorial process to ensure its compatibility with and responsibility in representing the mission of Regis Jesuit.”

The student magazine is currently being run by the school’s one remaining faculty adviser, who was previously in charge of student TV news. Elevate staff have been told they are not allowed to comment publicly on the situation.

Maria Lynch, one of the fired advisers, provided documents to the Sentinel detailing a back-and-forth with the administration over whether or not she was fired without cause. Lynch said she has been advised by legal counsel that the school violated the terms of her employment agreement by firing her. The school has said it does not comment on personnel matters.

On Friday, principal David Card and president Jimmy Tricco sent a letter to Regis Jesuit families addressing the situation.

“No students have been sanctioned in any way in relation to the publication of the article itself,” the letter said. “Nor were our decisions influenced by any external pressure, including that of the archdiocese. When it relates to personnel conversations and decisions, unfortunately, there are contextual pieces that we are unable to share in this current situation, and we are sorry we cannot offer more clarity in this regard.”

The letter also said that this is a “painful time” for the Regis Jesuit community and that the school remains “committed to balancing Jesuit education’s call to question everything with ensuring a deep and meaningful understanding of Catholic beliefs.”

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Sally paris
Sally paris
6 months ago

As they should

Pops Francis
Pops Francis
6 months ago

This protest was over the firing of the two teachers and the retraction of the student ran magazine. This protest and walkout had nothing to do with pro life or pro choice. This is not an insult to the Catholic institution but rather anger and disgust in how things were handled.

Jamesathan Octavius Rutherford
Jamesathan Octavius Rutherford
6 months ago

silencing student voices is fr mid

Susan Carr
Susan Carr
6 months ago

Abortion is murder. Don’t like Catholic teaching don’t go to a Catholic university.

Lee Ciereszko
Lee Ciereszko
6 months ago
Reply to  Susan Carr

Did you read the article?

Michael White
Michael White
6 months ago

Good for them

Boomer
Boomer
6 months ago

A dozen students? Sounds like a very tiny minority.

Spon Gebob
Spon Gebob
6 months ago

yb better

Boomer
Boomer
6 months ago

A dozen students? A tiny minority.

mary myrup
mary myrup
6 months ago

before you make comments you need the whole story. .lHowever free speech is an issue. We are still entitled to that.
Opinions should not be silent.

That guy
That guy
6 months ago
Reply to  mary myrup

It’s a private high school. Free speech doesn’t work the way you think it does in this situation

IH
IH
6 months ago

Not the first time Regis has attempted to silence the voice of their students. We pulled our daughters from the school after they were threatened against protesting rape culture. They protested anyway, but it seems not much has changed.

Mark
Mark
6 months ago

Just go to government schools; you won’t have to worry about this.

Barbara
Barbara
6 months ago

Opinion pieces are just that, opinions. It has nothing to do with the schools’ or churches teachings and beliefs. I would think encouraging young people to voice their opinions would be part of the education package. I don’t care who you are or what your beliefs are, everyone has a right to their opinion. Punishing these students in anyway, teaches that their first amendment rights are not taken seriously. How discouraging and disappointing.

Ed Lehner
6 months ago

The catholic church has always relied on fear and suppression to avoid any truth other than what a bunch of narrow minded old white men see it to be. Disgusting.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
6 months ago

I’m tired of seeing people punished for what they believe or what they say. I thought this was supposed to be a “free” country. I do realize that following the last administration, this is no longer held out to be true, however, as we approach autocracy and totalitarianism. The ironic thing is that the people who support the school’s administration demand “freedom” from masks and shots.

J.D. Ruybal
6 months ago

Such courage being displayed by those standing front and center—and on the street—to protest and defend against an institution that, by its nature, must control all aspects of one’s being in order to survive. Keep in mind the entire organization is made up of like minded individuals…The repercussion can and surely will be considerably harsh.
Stay strong as your future is ahead of you and the old mindset can and will pass. Independent thought and trust in scientific fact and truth in the nature of being alive in the natural world leads to a reality we are All walking away from. We are now, again, walking away from the path of righteousness and unity and walking onto the path of divisive condemnation.
‘Protesters’ ‘Truth defenders’ Stay Strong for Reality and Truth, even when it hurts; because the truth can be manipulated but never changed.

In Solidarity We Will Stand Divided We Will Fall 

J.D. Ruybal
6 months ago

Such courage being displayed by those standing front and center—and on the street—to protest and defend against an institution that, by its nature, must control all aspects of one’s being in order to survive. Keep in mind the entire organization is made up of like minded individuals…The repercussion can and surely will be considerably harsh.
Stay strong as your future is ahead of you and the old mindset can and will pass. Independent thought and trust in scientific fact and truth in the nature of being alive in the natural world leads to a reality we are All walking away from. We are now, again, walking away from the path of righteousness and unity and walking onto the path of divisive condemnation.
‘Protesters’ ‘Truth defenders’ Stay Strong for Reality and Truth, even when it hurts; because the truth can be manipulated but never changed.
In Solidarity We Will Stand Divided We Will Fall