Darnell Moore , a journalist and community activist who graduated from Seton Hall in 1999, was scheduled to receive the Black Alumni Committee’s first Young Alumni of Excellence award at the Black Alumni Weekend on Aug. 13, but the award was rescinded due to his pro-choice stance on abortion.
Moore, who has not been on campus in years, said he had been excited to return to accept his award.
He added he was shocked when he found out he would not receive the award because he supported a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.
From Aug. 12-14, the Black Alumni Committee hosted its first Black Alumni Weekend in conjunction with Alumni Relations.
The event included workshops, an awards ceremony and Sunday Fellowship, according to Seton Hall’s Black Alumni Committee website.
The Black Alumni Committee was expected to award Moore with its first Young Alumni of Excellence Award. It was unable to do so because of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Policy, Moore said.
Moore added that the Black Alumni Committee was unaware of the policy until Seton Hall informed them of it.
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”
For this reason the Black Alumni Committee could no longer present Moore with the award.
“They (Black Alumni Committee) could’ve given out the award, but then it wouldn’t be affiliated with SHU,” Moore said.
Laurie Pine, director of Media Relations and University spokeswoman, issued a statement from the University in an email interview.
“Seton Hall respects the viewpoints of all of its community members, however, the University espouses Catholic values and teachings in its presentation of awards to individuals and organizations. As an independent group, the Black Alumni Committee has the right to recognize individuals for their contributions.”
A Facebook post made on July 28 by the Seton Hall University Black Alumni Committee expressed its regret on being unable to present Moore with the award due to his “pro-choice advocacy and beliefs.”
“In spite of the fact that we graduated from a Catholic university, the Archdiocese’s policy does not reflect all persons and it does not negate the rights of individuals to have differing political views; nor should it impede one’s ability to be in environments or institutions that do not offer space for dissent, free speech and diversity of thought,” the post stated.
Moore said that, “The Black Alumni Association is struggling to be seen as a subgroup of the University, they need support.” Moore added that taking away the award was counterintuitive because, “It was a possibility for the Black Alumni Association to say their stances and celebrate one of their own.”
In a letter titled, “An Open Letter to Seton Hall University From A Black Alumnus: Keep Your Award,” Moore addressed his experiences at SHU as a black student.
Moore was awarded the Outstanding Academic Leadership Award in 2010 and the Clement Price Human Dignity Award in 2016 along with Dr. Beryl Satter. Both honors came from Rutgers University. As for the award being rescinded by SHU’s Black Alumni Association, Moore wrote that he prefers to stand by his beliefs.
“I would rather maintain my convictions than receive an honor from any repressive institution whose ideologies counter people’s rights to make reproductive and sexual choices best for them.”
Samantha Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org