In an environment where college students desire to express their views on controversial topics and practice free speech, rallies and protests are common occurrences on campus. Often, these public displays happen the same way: an organization takes a controversial stance, students get upset, an opposing organization arrives to protest, and it peters out after a few hours. The event disrupts campus for about a day, but the consequences can stay in the minds of those involved forever. College students have become conditioned to constant involvement in an ideological war with one another. Unfortunately, UTSA gives little regard to those who are stepping foot on campus for the first time, especially minors.
On Wednesday, Oct. 23, Love of Truth Ministries, an outside, pro-life organization, displayed graphic images of aborted fetuses captioned with the trimester in which the abortion occurred, obstructing many students’ paths on their way to class that afternoon. Kristi Chandler, a volunteer with the organization, offered justification for these images by saying, “A lot of students will not engage with us, and so if they walk past a sign and they see the truth of what abortion really is, that’s a way for us to get the truth to them without speaking because some just walk away; they don’t want to hear what we have to say.”
These images captured the attention of many people on campus, including that of touring middle school students passing through the Sombrilla. As part of UTSA’s Institute for P-20 Initiatives, students from grades K-12 are led across campus in guided tours to show them what UTSA has to offer. However, some tours did not go smoothly. Love of Truth Ministries’ members approached a group of middle school students and even attempted to distribute flyers to them.
I researched university policies regarding obscene content. This search brought me to Section 9.37 of the UTSA Handbook of Operation procedures, which states, “No person, including a student or university employee, shall distribute any petition, handbill, object or piece of literature; post or carry any sign, placard or banner; or engage in speech or conduct on property or in buildings or facilities owned or controlled by UTSA if it is obscene, unlawfully defamatory, or directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Thus, the display of the previously referenced images is in direct violation of this policy because any reasonable person would identify the images as obscene.
That a group like Love of Truth Ministries is allowed to table and display obscene content on campus is concerning enough. However, the involvement of minors who are on campus is completely unacceptable. Children should not be subjected to enlarged photographs of bloody fetuses, much less engage with the individuals responsible for providing those images. UTSA administration should step up, abide by their policies and shut down obscene displays by groups such as Love of Truth Ministries to protect the minors visiting campus and the university from the consequences of future obscene displays.