By: Jacqueline Foran, President and Founder of Students for Life Kutztown
The evening before Pro-Life Chalk Day, two Students for Life club members and I spent hours chalking the sidewalks around our campus, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania (KU). We were so excited to write positive messages we knew everyone would see. We chalked “You Are Loved,” numbers to helplines, and other positive pro-life messages.
I woke up the next morning excited to see the messages and observe how people would react to them. Instead, we woke up to find most of our messages erased. The remaining messages were washed away as the day went on until all of them were gone. I later learned that university employees had erased the messages and that they said they were just following orders. When we tried to re-chalk the messages, many of them were just erased again.
It really discouraged all of us. We knew that many students disagreed with our messages, but to think that the university was against us seemed like an impossible barrier to overcome.
According to university policy, we were required to chalk “on sidewalks and other uncovered walkways,” which we did. But that policy also says that students can only post (or chalk) messages that are “educational and informative in nature,” and students are prohibited from “advertis[ing] activities, events, or groups” that are “incompatible with the University’s Statement on Non-Discrimination.”
Such a policy is an attack on free speech. Such a vague statement gives KU officials the power to decide what counts as “discrimination” or not, allowing them to decide what messages can be expressed.
They could have easily used this policy to defend erasing our chalk messages by saying that our messages discriminate against women or women’s rights. That kind of logic gives university officials the discretion to erase messages promoting any controversial statement, whether it be right-leaning or left-leaning. Everyone has the right to free speech, no matter their point of view. Our public university should be defending that right, not silencing it.
Thankfully, Students for Life of America (SFLA) got us in touch with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). ADF sent a letter to the university on our behalf, insisting that they revise this unconstitutional policy. And recently, Kutztown University officially changed its policy to support free speech! University officials are no longer permitted to censor the messages and viewpoints that they don’t like, and this gives everyone on campus an equal opportunity to speak their mind.
To the students out there starting a pro-life club or trying to keep theirs thriving: Don’t give up.
And don’t be afraid to stand up for your right to free speech. With campuses becoming more and more biased, you can’t let people walk all over you and your freedoms. What you have to say is important and you have every right to express your beliefs. And in our case, the lives of millions of children depend on us.
It may seem like the odds are against you, but there are more people on your side than you realize. You have the support of so many others who are joining the fight for free speech, and you have the Constitution on your side, too! We know this firsthand!
We couldn’t have done it without SFLA, ADF, and another free-speech promoting club on our campus, Young Americans for Liberty. If you reach out, you’ll find that more people are rooting for you than you could’ve imagined!
To learn more about what ADF is doing to defend student rights on campus, visit the link below.