Prizm News / September 3, 2019 / By Ken Schneck

John Carroll University President Michael D. Johnson met with student leaders on August 28 to discuss the campus’ drag show, a popular event since its introduction in 2013. At the meeting, students were informed of the University’s decision to cancel the event.

In 2018, controversy on the topic of hate speech vs. free speech ensued when one student penned an op-ed in The Carroll News—the student newspaper of the University Heights private Jesuit university—describing the drag show as representing “deliberate actions of sexual deviance” and overall as “a scandalous attempt at the corruption of Catholic youth by the very priests and laypeople charged with their education.” The op-ed further recommended that President Johnson “purge this place of the evils which have invaded it in the names of tolerance and progress” starting with the drag show for which the student wrote that “there can be no rational justification.” The story was widely covered in myriad national media.

In this second year of Johnson’s presidency, students reported that he articulated a stance of neutrality at last week’s meeting, urging them to understand the views of the “other side,” and canceling the drag show as a means to achieve that understanding.

Several student groups have already pledged to protest this decision and host a series of educational events around the topics of drag, LGBTQ+ inclusion on campus, and the intersection of Catholic Social Teaching, Catechism, and supporting underrepresented voices.

Prizm will be publishing a longer piece featuring voices of John Carroll University students later this week. We have reached out to the President’s Office at the University for comment.