VIDEO: Angry student attacks pro-life display
In Ohio, a university is investigating two students who were filmed ripping up a pro-life display set up by a campus organization. After the Students for Life club of Miami University’s Hamilton Campus put up the anti-abortion display of dozens of small crosses and a sign on Sunday, it had already been damaged by Monday.
One of the students with the group announced that the display had been vandalized, and that:
“We actually caught a couple students on video ripping the crosses out of the ground and knocking them over and completely vandalizing our display.”
There was one video showing two students, but on Tuesday another video surfaced that showed someone knocking down the sign that was part of the display. Another student with the group said she was “very shocked and kind of dumbfounded.”
Display: ‘Cemetery of the Innocents’
Setting up white crosses is a common display by college pro-life organizations. Generally, there are a certain number of crosses and the accompanying sign says that they represent the number of abortions that occur daily in a certain area.
The students with the pro-life group say that they know that there are different views and beliefs on the issue, and that they would “welcome” a counter display, which would be more constructive than knocking down the pro-life display. At this time, it is unclear if any other campus groups will set up a counter-display, but it will have to first be approved by the school.
Miami University’s Hamilton Campus
Founded in 1968, the Hamilton Campus of Ohio’s Miami University is a state-assisted regional campus with approximately 3,600 students. There are six total campuses that make up the Miami University group, which was founded in 1806.
Hamilton Ohio is in the northern part of Cincinnati’s greater metropolitan area and is named for the founding father Alexander Hamilton.
Students For Life
Speaking with media, Ellie Wittman of the pro-life group said she was “heartbroken” over the vandalism:
“It’s discouraging to see students so upset at free-speech and pro-life views they feel the need to vandalize our display. However, we are encouraged by the university’s quick response to the incident and their support for our display.”
When the current president of parent group Students for Life of America was contacted, she focused on how the school has responded to the actions:
“We are glad that after standing up for their free-speech rights against their university that students are not being intimidated by pro-choice students who are vandalizing their display. Students for Life appreciates the school’s willingness to help with this issue and demands [that] other schools facing the same threats to free-speech support their students against vandalism.”
Office of Ethics and Conflict Resolution Is Investigating
For a 3,600 student school, I’m surprised to hear that such an office of “ethics and conflict resolution” would even be needed, but here we are.
A spokesperson for the Hamilton campus have confirmed that their ethics office are investigating the matter. Furthermore, the school said they promote and protect “the right to free speech and expression,” adding that the school’s administration are also disappointed.
One student with the campus pro-life group, Chloe Oberdling said that she commends the school “100 percent, because we feel like we really have been heard, and [we believe] that they are going to take a further action.”
First Amendment Rights
Wittman considers the vandalism of the display to be a First Amendment issue, since they had the display approved by the school.
“All students should respect that and should respect first amendment rights on campus regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the display.”
Campus Security Response
The display is still set up, and campus security has promised to keep a better eye on it.
In the last day, another spokesperson for the school has reached out to media to confirm that the school “promotes and protects the right to free speech and expression,” saying that educations are improved with the exchange of different viewpoints.
“Thus, we were disappointed to learn that two of our students [on Monday, April 9th] were reported to have damaged the approved display of one of our student organizations.”
Video Of The Incident
Here’s a 20 second clip showing two students kicking at the display. It appears to be a white male and a white female student.
Sources: Cincinnati Dot Com, Campus Reform, Cincinnati Right To Life