Letter to the Editor: TCNJ Students for Life display vandalized

To the Editor,

On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at about 12:45 p.m., the TCNJ Students for Life erected a small display called “The Graveyard of the Unborn” on Quimby’s Prairie. The display consisted of a sign stating the organization’s name and the most recent estimate for the number of abortions that occurred in New Jersey in 2011 according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Alongside the sign were 47 small red flags that had been planted into the ground, with each flag representing 1,000 abortions, as explained on the sign. The Graveyard is a simple display that the club has erected annually for the past several years as an attempt to present these statistics visually to the campus community.

The next day, at some point between the times 9:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., the entire display was torn up from the ground, quite possibly lasting less than or slightly more than 24-hours. The display was later found in a nearby trashcan at about 2:45 p.m., where the sign was partially forced into the can and covered in mud, along with its metal stand. The 47 red flags were soaked with coffee from cups that had been tossed into the can, as well.

All the parts of the display were collected and brought to the first floor men’s bathroom of the Science Complex, where they were all washed. This incident was reported to student activities at the College, who investigated the matter. After the investigation, they found no evidence that any personnel working for grounds and maintenance were responsible, making the only logical cause of the incident vandalism.

TCNJ Students for Life is not the largest organization on campus or the most well-known, but it is a secular, non-partisan organization representing a group of individuals who believe that all lives have meaning. For a rogue individual to have the audacity to vandalize the display of such an organization in broad daylight just because the display does not agree with his or her own personal beliefs is a major cause for concern that threatens everything that an academic institution is supposed to stand for.

An academic institution is supposed to be a place where all ideas can be exchanged and discussed in a free and open atmosphere. TCNJ Students for Life asks that the right to freely and openly express our opinions without the expectation of harassment, violence or acts of vandalism – the same treatment expected for all other points of view. Unfortunately, the TCNJ Students for Life has come to expect that our liberties will be denied, as similar acts of vandalism have occurred against the organization every year for the past three years (counting the present one).

If a student organization cannot expect this fundamental human right to be respected on our very campus, then the College is not fulfilling its own mission statement to be “dedicated to free inquiry and open exchange.”

To all the members of the College’s campus, please stand and speak up to ensure that the College continues to be an institution of high learning, where the expectation that someone’s free speech will be protected has no exceptions.

Thank you very much for your time and best of luck with finals,

Sincerely,

Alexander, Suitovsky,  Secretary of TCNJ Students for Life

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