Democrat Party Leader Uses University Position To Warn School About Pro-Lifers:
Democrat Party Leader and Planned Parenthood Ally Uses Position At University To Warn School About Pro-Lifers
What happens if you’re both a Democrat district chairwoman in your state’s party and also the vice-provost at North Dakota State University?
If you’re Laura Oster-Aaland, you use your position as a vice-provost to send out a warning e-mail about your school’s own Students for Life group bringing medically accurate pictures, which are non-graphic, of what happens during an abortion to campus.
Oster-Aaland doesn’t just work as a vice provost of the school-- she is also a district chairwoman for the Democratic Party and active in the North Dakota Women’s Network, a liberal group that is close with Planned Parenthood. The group hosts Feminist First Fridays and held a political activism training with Planned Parenthood. Board member Amy Jacobson also works in public affairs for Planned Parenthood.
It all started when North Dakota State University Collegians for Life sought to bring the #TheyFeelPain Tour, Student for Life’s Fall tour about ending late-term abortions, to campus. The group followed proper procedure for getting approval to set up the display on campus. On September 7th, after submitting the reservation request, a student employee asked for a clarification on the date (the form was missing the date) and asked for the dimensions of the display and what the display looked like.
Hansen supplied the date for the display and also submitted the dimensions of the display on September 7th. The student employee responded that there would be room for only one banner, to which Hansen asked if there was an alternate location that could be used so the rest of the display could be used.
On Tuesday, September 11th, an administrative assistant for the Memorial Union e-mailed Emilee Hansen, president of NDSU Collegians for Life and wrote, “Paul Wraalstad, Memorial Union of Operations Director, and Matt Skoy, Student Activities Office Director, would like to meet with you about your contact table reservation for September 19, 2018. They would like to gather more information before finalizing their decision on your reservation.”
When Emilee asked for clarification on what the meeting would be about, the administrative assistant wrote, “They would like to talk to you about the size and the number of banners you would like to display along with the other equipment such as table and chairs needed. They want to discuss where the best place would be for your display. Feel free to bring in your banners to show Matt and Paul.”
On September 13th, the administrative assistant followed up trying to set up a meeting, but Emilee did not respond because all the information had already been provided on the dimensions
On Monday, September 17th, Emilee responded to the administrative assistant and offered to meet about the display and offered the contact information for Noah Maldonado. Wraalstad said he wanted to meet to discuss a “solution” and asked to set up a meeting Tuesday and requested Emilee fill out a new form which she did.
On Tuesday, September 18th, the day before the display, Paul wrote to Emilee,
Your request for a literature distribution / freedom of speech space has been approved with one modification. We have designated the Northeast corner of Albrecht Blvd. and Centennial Blvd. to be the most appropriate location for this display. Due to the fact that this display may contain images that could be disturbing to some individuals, the following notice will be sent out to the faculty, staff, and student listserve in the morning. I wanted to let you know that this would be taking place.
The e-mail read:
Subject: Free Speech Activity Notice
Notice to the NDSU Community,
Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, between the hours of 11am and 3pm, NDSU Collegians for Life will be utilizing the free speech zone at the corner of Albrecht Blvd. and Centennial Blvd. to share what they have defined as a “Fetal Pain Display.” It is possible that this display may contain images that could be disturbing to some members of our community. This email serves to inform you that these activities will be taking place, should you desire to avoid the area.
As an institution, we have the right to reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner in which individuals or groups are allowed to exercise the right to freedom of speech. NDSU Collegians for Life have followed all institutional expectations and have been approved to conduct these activities. The institution does not have the right to regulate content of these activities.
The e-mail ends by directing all complaints to Emilee Hansen or NDSU’s faculty advisor.
In response to an inquiry by Students for Life of America, Oster-Aaland wrote, “the university has sent out notices to the campus community in the past to both remind the campus of our respect for and commitment to free speech, and to alert individuals when content may be disturbing to some members.”
Wraalstad, a university spokeswoman, and Oster-Aaland have all ignored the question of what the criteria is for making the decision. On Wednesday, September 19th, after displaying the banners, Noah Maldonado, SFLA regional coordinator along with Hansen and several other students met with Paul Wraalstad to discuss the university policy and what the policy is, after Maldonado had tried contacting Wraalstad through the phone.
According to Wraalstad, Policy 154 explains the criteria, but the policy does not say anything about warning the school community. Instead it merely lists the approval process for handing out literature and says that demonstrations cannot interfere with university business (i.e. blocking students or staff from accessing buildings). But, when Maldonado pressed Wraalstad for more information on how that policy applies to notifying students, Wraalstad admits that it doesn’t.
In the meeting, Wraalstad notes that the warning e-mail was suggested by Oster-Aaland and that he is just the “paperwork guy.” Wraalstad notes though that the imagery was talked about, but dodged defining what the criteria is for what imagery is offensive.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America stated, “University officials should not use their positions to ‘warn’ the school’s community about any display on campus. In warning students, faculty, and staff, that the medically-accurate, non-graphic fetal pain display might be offensive, they undercut NDSU Students for Life and singled them out for criticism. It is even more disgusting that Laura Oster-Aaland would abuse her position as vice-provost to push her pro-choice, liberal beliefs onto the school community at the taxpayer-funded university.”
Noah Maldonado, added, “Universities should not single out any group just because of their displays. NDSU Collegians for Life is a courageous, registered group on campus made up of students who are being targeted by their own university for expressing their support and commitment to women and preborn children on their campus."
Emilee Hansen added, “We’ve never had problems before with the administration, so it is disappointing we had to go through this. We look forward to working with the university to fix this speech policy and make it more transparent.”