- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A student at a Catholic college has been harassed by classmates and denounced by administrators for putting up a bulletin board in a residence hall affirming Catholic teaching on marriage.

Michael Smalanskas, a resident advisor and a senior at Providence College in Rhode Island, made the bulletin board in response to a pro-lesbian poster that was posted in a women’s residence hall throughout the month of February.

Before it was taken down, his board read, “Marriage: The Way God Intended It, One Man One Woman,” accompanied by a quote from Pope Francis and a passage from the Gospel of Mark affirming traditional marriage.

Ever since the display went up on March 1, Mr. Smalanskas said students have been congregating outside of his dorm room and confronting him as he goes about his day.

“I couldn’t even go brush my teeth for several nights without facing a mob in my hallway,” the student told LifeSiteNews.

Mr. Smalanskas also said a drawing depicting him being raped was hung up on the mirror of his dormitory bathroom. A screenshot of the cartoon shows the rapist saying, “Mike, what did I say about putting your sign up?” to which the person being raped responds, “Please! Sorry!”

He said his fellow resident advisors have petitioned the university to fire him and to enact a policy to prevent something similar from happening again.

“They’re really asking for a safe space from Catholicism here,” Mr. Smalanskas said.

He said the resident advisors have also been letting themselves and other students into his residence hall after hours, which he called a “total abuse of their power.”

One evening, after a mob of students gathered in his residence hall, Mr. Smalanskas said he had to be transported to a different location by campus security out of concern for his safety.

In a March 12 meeting with administrators, Mr. Smalanskas asked the university to denounce the actions of the students harassing him, affirm Catholic teaching on marriage and protect freedom of speech on campus.

By the end of the meeting, he said the university had “made it abundantly clear that they would do nothing to affirm the mission of the college.”

Some administrators are even encouraging Mr. Smalanskas’ detractors.

The Women’s Studies Program at Providence College is holding a “March Against Transphobia and Homophobia” on Wednesday in response to the pro-traditional marriage bulletin board.

Kristine Goodwin, vice president of student affairs at Providence, sent a letter to students on March 14 encouraging them to attend the rally in order to promote “unity, affirmation, and inclusion even amidst controversy.”

In a March 19 letter to the Providence community, university President Fr. Brian Shanley called for respectful and charitable dialogue.

Those who “profess what the Church teaches” on marriage, Fr. Shanley wrote, “need to do so in a charitable way that recognizes the human dignity of every person as created in the image and likeness of God,” without marginalizing “members of our community, like LGBTQ people or divorced and remarried Catholics, who find the Church’s teaching difficult to accept.”

Mr. Smalanskas said he wrote a letter to Bishop Thomas Tobin, in whose diocese the school resides, to tell him that Catholic teaching is “so foreign to the student population” at Providence College that it is “being treated as hate speech.”

The bishop appeared to allude to the situation at Providence in a social media post on March 17.

Thirteen faculty members at Providence College also signed a public letter on March 18 calling on the college to “state clearly and publicly that faithful, thoughtful expressions of Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality are welcome on campus and integral to the mission-animated approach to diversity and inclusion.”

Mr. Smalanskas said he is considering taking legal action against Providence College, citing the school’s lackluster response to the cartoon of him being raped, which he said could be a Title IX violation.

He said a lawsuit is “not off the table by any stretch.”

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