A “cemetery” of crosses displayed at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) to memorialize those killed by abortion has been publicly vandalized by a member of the student senate.
On May 1, at about 11 a.m., members of UWSP pro-life group Pointers for Life were repairing their “Cemetery of the Innocents” display, which had been defaced during the previous night. A group of angry students, led by UWSP Student Senator Roderick King, began to walk through the rows, taking crosses from the ground and throwing them.
Part of the vandalism was recorded and posted to the video-sharing web site YouTube.
King reportedly complained that the pro-life group had “no right” to display the crosses, saying it was “his duty as a paying student” to take them down.
After a campus Protective Services officer arrived, most of the students who were vandalizing the display stopped.
King, however, claimed “The freedom of speech does not cover these signs and symbols.” When the officer warned King he could be made to pay for damages, the student senator stopped.
Bob Tomlinson, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at UWSP, apologized to Pointers for Life for the disrespect and vandalism inflicted by the opposing students. Two student senators said the pro-life group had correctly reserved the space and were allowed to host the display.
In response to the vandalism, Pointers for Life filed a complaint with the Student Government Association asking for King to resign or be appropriately disciplined under the student government constitution.
In a letter to the Stevens Point Journal Newspaper, King explained his actions, saying he thought the display was “disrespectful” and that the university was “more than wrong” for allowing the display. He said the Pointers for Life request for his resignation or discipline from the student senate supposes that he is “more than a mere student” who “should be held to different standards.”
According to King, the pro-life group’s grievance against him was that he did not represent the student body. “On the contrary, many students agree with my actions,” he wrote. He claimed their motive for seeking disciplinary action was in fact based upon their opposing views about abortion.
King insisted he did not act in the incident as a member of the UWSP Student Government Association, but as “an individual who believes one person's right to freedom of speech stops when it infringes on another person's right to a secular education.”
Jackie Kryzkowski, president of Pointers for Life, said, “Student Senators should be helping to defend our freedom of speech, not trying to take it away because of personal beliefs. If students had a problem with the display, they could exercise their freedom of speech maturely by protesting it peacefully, not by defacing our display.”
Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director of Students for Life of America (SFLA), said, “This is not the first time that a student group has had this same type of peaceful display vandalized or has faced discrimination on a college campus. SFLA is here to make sure all college pro-lifers are guaranteed their rights to demonstrate on behalf of those who have no voice.”
A video of the vandalism is viewable at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5NeLyMZUYM