At University of North Carolina (UNC) it’s not uncommon for groups on campus to express themselves in chalk on the sidewalks. In fact, it’s so common, the university has a policy covering it. So when the campus pro-life group, Students for Life, used the sidewalk to share their message, it shouldn’t have been an issue, but it was.
According to CampusReform, the group’s messages included the following:
“End the War on Women,” “Life is Beautiful! Everyone Deserves a Chance to Live it,” and “Planned Parenthood Stops 867 Hearts per Day.” Another message gave the phone number to a free, 24/7 pregnancy helpline.
But the Students for United Reproductive Justice (SURJ) found the writings to be “problematic” and “triggering” and went so far as to say “This is violence.” Well, I’m not sure that chalk words on a sidewalk can really be “violent,” but I guess that depends on who’s dictionary you’re using!
Within a matter of hours, the SURJ members erased the messages and replace them with…
… because those words are SOOOO much less “triggering”?? Student for Life president, Grace Garner commented:
Everybody likes to say that they’re for free speech, and that they’re tolerant of different viewpoints,” but “when they’re confronted with different viewpoints, they would rather destroy them than engage in a constructive dialogue.”
She’s got a point. Why couldn’t the SURJ have written their own slogans or comments in another area of the sidewalk? Did they really have to deface someone else’s work?
Jim Gregory, Director of Media Relations at UNC, confirmed in an email to Campus Reform that “there is no prohibition against writing in chalk on outside sidewalk areas on campus,” adding that “groups from across campus routinely express points of view on a range of subjects via chalk messages.”
He didn’t mention whether or not the practice of wiping out other people’s messages was acceptable. It certainly doesn’t seem like it should be. But when you’re dealing with the overly heightened sensitivities of people who believe pro-life words in chalk on a sidewalk to be violent… well, it’s hard to say.
You can read more on CampusReform.
Photo credit CampusReform