Co-Author: Augusta Nissly
Members of Repent America shouted from atop step stools and displayed photos of aborted fetuses as students walked past their protest at three different locations on campus on Thurs., Oct. 9.
The group of approximately 25 is based in Philadelphia and has visited several state universities, including West Chester, Indiana, Lock Haven and Shippensburg.
“We want to be a voice for the voiceless,” Mark Diener from Repent America said. “We want to present the Word of God while presenting the horror of abortion.”
Repent America was set up in front of the Student Memorial Center, the quad and near Lyle Hall. According to Dr. Aminta Breaux, VP of student affairs, protestors are allowed to be at any location on campus as long as they do not disrupt university activities.
“As a public university we cannot make people stay at the bell tower,” Breaux said. “They have to be able to use their constitutional right to free speech wherever they want.”
MUPD will request that groups protest at the bell tower in order to provide more security between students and organization members. “They can be anywhere on campus,” said Chief Wayne Silcox. “As long as they are not obstructing walkways, technically they do not need a permit, and they are entitled to be here.”
Silent Witness, a branch of MU Allies and a county-wide organization, were present with black and gold umbrellas as a barrier between protestors and students.
“We use non-confrontational tactics as peacekeepers,” Dr. Blaise Liffick, professor of computer science and Silent Witness director of operations, said. “There is no interest in dialogue, just an interest in proselytizing.
Liffick trains members of Silent Witness on the tactics of silent protesting when other organizations demonstrate against homosexuality. Trying to block the picture of aborted fetuses, the member of Silent Witness used umbrellas to stand in between the pictures and passersby.
“We are using the umbrellas to block the views,” said sophomore Sarah Agnew. “People should have their own opinions, but not like this.”
Dr. Doug Zander, director of admissions, provided the umbrellas used to block the views. The umbrellas are a symbol of the Silent Witness organization. “They typically use umbrellas to be the peace keepers during a protest such as this,” said Zander. Silent Witness usually uses the GLBT colored umbrellas. ‘They didn’t want to use their normal ones, so the admissions office donated ours to be used,” added Zander.
Freshman Tricia Getten watched as other students argued with Diener in front of the SMC. “I don’t like what he’s saying,” Getten said. “I think gay marriage can be anything you want.”
Many students lined the walkways trying to figure out what was being debated. The main theme of the debates was homosexuality.
“It’s incorrect to say the least,” said junior Ian Miller. “Instead of preaching about an issue like this, talk about how Jesus loves us.”
Another student felt the discussion was not accurately based. “It seems to be bringing up points on 50 year-old arguments,” said junior Zach Hoch. “He is trying to argue things that don’t match up.”
Although the pictures of the aborted fetuses disturbed many who walked by, some, they did not bother. ‘The pictures don’t bug me,” said junior Chris Wells. “I am pro-life, but he is using the topic as a gateway for a much broader issue.”
“I don’t think you can sway people’s opinions on a college campus,” added senior Jessica Jones. “I am against the pictures, and the turning of people away to the issues.”