A student and resident assistant at Providence College in Rhode Island has come under attack in recent weeks after posting information about the biblical teaching of marriage on a bulletin board in his dormitory hall.
On March 1, college senior Michael Smalanskas posted the bulletin board display, which read, “Marriage: The Way God Intended It . . . One Man, One Woman” and included several images and a Bible quote.
Smalanskas’s display was met with immediate and aggressive backlash when students returned from spring break. Within a few hours, the board was completely destroyed, and angry students gathered outside the RA’s room. Campus security guards even approached Smalanskas about transferring him to another building to spend the night because they feared for his safety.
He also received criticism on social media and texts from angered students and fellow RAs who accused him of “homophobia” and “creating a hostile and unsafe environment.” Ironically, these same angered students also placed a drawing in a school restroom of Smalanskas being raped.
In a recent interview with National Review, Smalanskas said that the bulletin board display wasn’t meant to incite anger or to target any particular students.
“It was basically to expose a double standard on campus that certain positions — mainly conservative and Catholic positions — are not welcome here and are treated with hatred,” he said.
Despite Providence College being a Catholic institution, the school has a reputation for ostracizing conservatives who hold to long standing Church teachings. Just last year, conservative author and English professor Anthony Esolen left his tenured position at the college after he became the subject of similar hostility.
After the recent incident involving Smalanskas was met with intense criticism from conservative and Catholic media and Church leaders, Providence College President Fr. Brian Shanley released a letter responding to the situation.
For some, Fr. Shanley’s response was too little too late.
Catholic Vote columnist Stephen Herreid notes that “[b]efore Fr. Shanley gets around to condemning the threatening behavior of pro-LGBTQ students, he lashes out at the ‘angry, accusatory,’ and ‘uncharitable’ defenders of Smalanskas, as well as what he deems to be inaccurate reportage on the controversy ‘mostly on conservative social media sites.’”
Read the full letter here.