On Tuesday night, as University of Georgia sophomore Elizabeth Ridgeway waited at a south campus bus stop, she noticed a hooded male approach a paper banner displayed across the intersection announcing an upcoming pro-life event.
He tore the banner down, crumpled it up, threw it in a nearby trashcan, and walked away.
Ridgeway, who is Publisher of THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE, walked over to investigate. She salvaged the banner and took a photograph of the vandalism, one of a recent string of occurrences against pro-life students.
For the past week, its members have advertised an upcoming speaker event called “Prolife Without God” featuring Kelsey Hazzard, president of the national organization Secular Pro-Life; and for the past week, signs touting that visit have disappeared campuswide, sophomore Rebecca Stapleford, president of the University of Georgia chapter of Students for Life, told The College Fix.
“I keep putting the posters up … and someone keeps taking them down,” Stapleford said. “I put them up, go to class and within an hour they are gone. I put them up again, and within five minutes they are gone.”
Posters have disappeared in several academic buildings as well as residence halls, the Miller Learning Center, and bus stops, she said. The prolife student group replaced the stolen ones as quickly as possible, however Stapleford says she has spent $30 of her own money for such efforts.
Secular Pro-Life’s Hazzard is scheduled to arrive today on campus for the event, as planned, and said this is the first time vandalism has preceded one of her speaking engagements, but that she is not surprised by the news.
“The abortion movement is frustrated that the pro-life message is gaining ground, particularly among college-aged people,” Hazzard said. “Some have, unacceptably, let out that frustration by attempting to censor their pro-life classmates.”
What’s more, this is not the first time UGA’s Students For Life has had their displays destroyed.
“We do graphic image displays, so we have been targets of vandalism in the past, usually related to the signs we put out warning of graphic images ahead,” Stapleford said. “They are almost always stolen, so we don’t bother to put them out anymore.”
Vandalism of pro-life displays is not unique to UGA, either. Last year, the posters of a pro-life group at the University of Chicago were torn down and defaced. The posters advertised the group’s next meeting. Other instances of vandalism against pro-life displays have been documented at USC, Ohio State, Princeton and Harvard.
This week’s acts of vandalism are especially disappointing to Students for Life members, they said, because they had hoped to reach out to pro-choice students, many of whom are secular, with this particular speaker.
Stapleford emailed the Secular Student Alliance and other traditionally pro-choice groups to make them aware of the event.
“I am bringing Kelsey Hazzard to campus in order to shatter stereotypes about who is pro-life,” Stapleford said. “I also want to make people realize that abortion, as a human rights issue, can be opposed on secular grounds.”
UGA’s Vice President of Public Affairs Tom Jackson responded to a request for comment on behalf of the university, saying that while he did not know the facts of the particular situation, “it is apparent that no one should be destroying notices properly posted by someone else.”
—M. Blake Seitz is Editor-in-Chief of THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE
(Like what you see? Support THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE!)