The Catholic University student government, which took an unprecedented first step last week toward recognizing a campus abortion-rights group, revoked the recognition last night.
On Nov. 7, the legislative arm of the Undergraduate Student Government Association voted 19 to 5 to recognize Catholic Students for Choice. That set the stage for confrontation with the university administration, which has refused to sanction abortion-rights activities.
Last night, the judicial arm of the student government association ruled that the legislative branch had violated university policy by recognizing the abortion-rights group.
"Therefore, the recognition of the pro-choice group is revoked," said the Rev. Robert M. Friday, Catholic University's vice president for student life.
Matthew Hennessy, a junior who is chairman of Catholic Students for Choice, predicted that the issue will not disappear.
"You can't tick off so many students by just blatantly and blithely saying, 'You're unrecognized,' " said Hennessy, a politics major. "People are very mad out there."
While expressing disappointment over the vote, which was taken Tuesday night by the judicial branch and announced formally last night, Hennessy said he "knew the judicial branch was held over a barrel."
While the message originally sent by the legislative vote "still stands," he said, the judicial branch had no choice but to affirm university policy.
Although it revoked the recognition, the judicial branch issued a split ruling.
It said that while the legislature had violated university policy, its action in recognizing the abortion-rights group was nevertheless in accord with the student government constitution.
Friday said the university was pleased by the vote to strip recognition from the abortion-rights group, and said the vote does not mean that dialogue with students on the issue will end.
He said he hoped that "there would be programs at the university in which the views of both the pro-choice and the pro-life sides will be explained."
The student effort last week to obtain recognition of the abortion-rights group is the latest incident in a controversy over freedom of speech issues at the 100-year-old campus in Northeast Washington.
During the summer, a student government officer canceled a debate that was to feature abortion-rights advocate Bill Baird because of concerns raised by university officials.
Some of the interest on campus this fall in creating the abortion-rights group has been linked to that incident.