GUEST POST: While tabling and having respectful dialogue with students about the dangers of Chemical Abortion Pills in February, an employee from Bowling Green State University’s merchandise store began to disrupt by yelling at the top of her voice. She screamed, “You are promoting violence against women! Violence!” When we asked her for a civil conversation with us, she shouted, “No, you dumb f*ck!” She refused to answer why she was so upset and told us she didn’t want to speak with us before walking away.
An hour later, the girl — our SFLA group later learned named Soren — came back and screamed, “You are promoting violence by forcing people to stay pregnant!” We explained that we offer free resources to pregnant and parenting students and believe they deserve love and support. At this point she was slamming her fists on the table, yelling, “There is nothing loving about forcing people to give birth against their will!”
She left finally… but came back an hour later as we were heading out.
“How can you say eating animals is okay, but getting an abortion is not?!” Soren asked, without ever asking if we eat animals. Before we could even answer the question, she started slamming her hands on the table harder than ever, calling us fascists and getting in our Regional Coordinator Jamie Scherdin’s face. We made numerous attempts to have a civil discussion with her, but to no avail; she yelled “No, you dumb f*ck” every time.
A week later, we set up a Cemetery of the Innocents display — and it was hectic. In addition to around 25 vandalisms we experienced from a plethora of students and one arrest that resulted from the event, Soren spent days in front of our flags holding a sign which read, “Forced birth is violence, abortions are healthcare, defend bodily autonomy, abortions should be safe & free.”
We later realized that Soren is the president/founder of a group called Bowling Green Student Rights Union (BGSRU) and often joins forces with the Bowling Green Socialists. The BGSRU Instagram page responded to the arrest by saying “f*** you to bgsupd [our school police department].”
Both of these radical groups also protested a co-tabling event between Falcons for Life and the campus Young Americans for Freedom group in late February by getting in our members’ faces, screaming that we’re “racists” and “fascists” for opposing abortion. They also taped a crude sign to our table about genitals.
A month later in March, we participated in National Pro-life Chalk Day by chalking all over campus, which is within our First Amendment rights. Before we even finished our two hours of chalking, someone poured water on one of our messages, and by the next morning, virtually all of our messages were scuffed up and written over by students. Removing others’ speech is not within First Amendment rights.
It’s difficult to know the perpetrators when confessions only occur on YikYak, an anonymous site.
I submitted Student Conduct violation reports for both the Cemetery of the Innocents vandalisms and the chalk art vandalisms, but my university never responded to either.
And then this caught their attention.
I submitted another report showing the BGSRU Instagram page’s post of me with edited devil horns and a caption with paragraphs about how I “spread misinfo [sic] and lies” and work with organizations that are “anti women and anti healthcare” and “lying deceptive.”
This is not only cyberbullying but defamation. And while my faculty advisor and I did meet with a BGSU administrator about this, the administrator said there is nothing the university can do now or to prevent this type of behavior from happening in the future since he believes Soren and BGSRU are acting within their First Amendment rights.
He said the only thing the university can do is put a “No Contact” Directive in place between BGSRU and Falcons for Life, which would prevent the organizations from tagging each other but would not prevent posting about the other, using members’ names and faces in posts — effectively doing nothing to solve the problem at hand.
The cherry on top is that a couple weeks before this meeting, Falcons for Life was kicked out of the Jerome Library for no good reason by a BGSU faculty member. It was because we were peacefully protesting an abortion petition-signing event hosted by the BG Socialists and were allegedly “disrupting the conference” — even though we were very quiet, only talked to conference-goers during the breaks, and never entered the conference room.
The fight isn’t over to ensure our free speech is protected. Working with SFLA legal counsel, we have sent a demand letter to my school to improve this situation. Stay tuned to hear what happens.
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