Students protesting in support of pro-choice received more than 200 signatures on a petition to have the Pro-Life Mavericks remove their display Wednesday on the Central Library mall.
John Hillas, assistant director of Student Activities, said the display is protected under the university’s Freedoms of Speech, Expression and Assembly policy found in the Handbook of Operating Procedures policy.
“The content of that speech – regardless of whether it is viewed as objectionable or not by an individual on campus – the content of that speech is really not what’s at issue from the university’s point of view,” Hillas said. “It’s managing the time, place and manner of expression so that what needs to happen here at UTA to for students to get to class, for people to do there own thing on a day-to-day basis. That’s really what’s of concern to us.”
The students' goal was to collect 100 signatures, but they met that goal after one hour of protest.
“We are going to present it to the Pro-Life Mavericks to show them the number of people who find this display distasteful and hopefully use it as an aid to convince them to remove it,” physics freshman Kayla Jette said.
About 15 students protested beside the display holding cardboard signs reading “Pro-Choice” and “Stand with Women.”
This is the second year the Pro-Life Mavericks have displayed the crosses on the Central Library mall. It was met with protest from pro-choice advocates last year as well.
Wednesday's protest was organized by English sophomore Ashley Radovcich, who felt the display of nearly 3,000 wooden crosses dotting the grass on the Central Library mall was insensitive.
“Every cross is supposed to represent an unborn child, but not necessarily every child that is aborted is Christian and therefore they’re being culturally insensitive, especially since we’re the fifth most diverse campus in America,” Radovcich said.
The Pro-Life Mavericks public relations officer Adam Fogel said the group would consider the petition if it was presented to the organization. He said they don’t plan on taking anymore action in response to the pro-choice protest.
“It’s their opinion, they’re exercising their freedom of speech so I have nothing against it,” Fogel said. “I think our display enough would be a protest to what they’re doing. We’re trying to get our opinions out and they’re trying to get out their opinions.”
According to the UTA Handbook of Operating Procedures, university persons and organizations are permitted to openly respond to expression of others on campus by “means of response that are permitted in many locations and without advance permission or reservation, such as signs, tables, distribution of literature and public assembly without amplified sound.
Nursing freshman Richmond Escarlan said he signed the petition because of he believes in the right to choose and that everyone can have their own opinion.
“It’s a matter of women. They should always have the right to choose with their own bodies and no matter what, you’re not the person that’s bearing the child,” Escarlan said. “Everyone has the right to choice, everyone has the right to display what they want and if anything you can agree, you can disagree, but you should always be respectful of other people’s opinions.”