The week before Spring Break, giant canvas signs displayed on campus by the Genocide Awareness Project were unavoidable. There were warnings about the images, but these alerts did not accurately describe the visual assault GAP perpetrated.
GAP was invited to campus by the CSULB Catholic Newman Club on March 26. Choice USA CSULB quickly organized a peaceful counter-protest. Choice USA is a national organization that works for reproductive justice and promotes the concept that all people — regardless of their circumstance or identity — have the right to make private reproductive decisions without judgment, shame or systemic barriers.
The goal of the counter-protest was to take our school back from an outside group that agitates, disrupts and intends to shut down students’ rights to make personal choices about reproductive rights. The peaceful counter-protest was an important expression of free speech that provided a pro-choice declaration for GAP, as well as our fellow students.
We felt the need to stage the counter-protest to let students know about the tactics that groups like GAP use. GAP claims they were on campus to engage with students, but we feel like their true intentions were to spread misinformation and to provoke students to argue with them about abortion.
That is why GAP had multiple cameras during their CSULB demonstration. Some demonstrators carried cameras so they could provoke students into aggressive situations and document the response. This would enable GAP to file a lawsuit or a complaint if violence ensued.
This was the reason for our peaceful protest: to avoid any physical altercations. We did not want a crowd to form, or for students to be accused of harming members of GAP or their property.
Choice USA CSULB promotes reproductive justice, and we are committed to seeking justice through peaceful means. Unfortunately, the members of GAP are unwilling to engage in meaningful or respectful dialogue.
Imagine what it must have been like for students currently considering having an abortion, or who have had abortions in the past, who had to walk by the GAP demonstration. Shaming female students like this is ineffective, counterproductive and a heartless way to address reproductive issues.
Choice USA and the Catholic Newman Club could have collaborated by working to prevent unplanned pregnancies. We were willing to come together and encourage students to seek reputable clinics.
We understand that abortion is a prominent issue for “anti-choice” organizations, but it is also a sensitive issue for students walking our campus. But, students have a right to attend school in a safe environment.
In the future, we hope anti-choice organizations will be willing to accept our offer to find a middle ground through which we can promote positive reproductive justice on campus.