University visited by controversial exhibit

By: Nicolas Saravia / Staff Writer

With an exhibit comparing abortion to genocide, the Genocide Awareness Project aimed to spark debate and influence students through an interactive photomural presentation.

Sponsored by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, the display stood outside of the Betty Chapman Plaza in front of the Graham Center on Feb. 21 and 22 at Modesto Maidique Campus.

“Genocide is the systematic destruction of a group. In this case it is the destruction of the very young, singling them out,” said Mark Harrington, executive director of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform and president of the Pro-Life Institute.

The exhibit is part of a tour throughout universities in Florida, including the University of West Florida, Florida State University and Florida Atlantic University.

According to Harrington, the organization is also campaigning to establish a pro-life group on campus and have collected “over one hundred names” while the photo exhibit was up.

The project also focuses on training pro-life activists from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Canada.

“I want to fight for respect for human life and advocate loving options, such as adoption,” said Amanda Country, a student at Lakehead University in Canada. “I am motivated because my father was an orphan and went to become a doctor. Adoption is an option that is over-looked,”

Some members of the University community and local organizations also participated in setting up the exhibit.

“Our goals are to bring awareness about abortion and the reason we work so well with the G.A.P. is because not only are we a local connection, but we also complement them by providing services to the community,” said Kristen Weissinger, FIU senior.

The exhibit has been a subject of controversy on other university campuses, including trespassing charges against the group, after their refusal to turn the billboards inward at the University of Calgary last November.

“We have received some complaints, but some people don’t realize that they are who they are by the first trimester,” said Weissinger.

The Division of Student Affairs emailed students on the importance of free speech and diversity on campus in anticipation of the controversial exhibit.

“Although the exhibit has created controversy on many campuses, it is important for us to remember that as a public university, FIU is a place where the First Amendment must be exercised and the free exchange of speech, no matter how offensive that speech may be must be protected,” said Rosa Jones, Vice-President of Student Affairs in the email.

Although there were students who disagreed with the exhibit’s message, no major incidents occurred.

There was also a free speech board installed by the exhibit, so the University community could post their opinion on the matter.

“I’m pro-choice, but think the exhibit was honest, compelling and non-offensive. Comparisons to genocide are appropriate considering their beliefs, and gory imagery is appropriate as well, just as I would use it for an anti-war demonstration,” said Oren Reich, FIU Law student.

Meredith Kalman, an adjunct professor of English and law student who is pro-choice, firmly respects the right to free speech yet felt there was a lack of respect when it came to the pro-life side.

“On a personal level, as someone who has had an abortion, I felt my decision to continue my life and pursue my career goals, was under attack,” said Meredith Kalman, Adjunct Professor of English and law student.

Kalman graduated at age 23 in Vermont, where she chose to have an abortion because she did not feel ready to have a child at that point in her life.

“Being forced to have a child in order to satisfy other people’s religious inclinations hardly seems fair or logical,” said Kalman.

The arrival of the Genocide Awareness Project is timely, as the abortion debate has recently reappeared in the media and Congress.

Members of the Republican Party are looking to pass a bill which would expand restrictions on abortion access and financing, while eliminating certain provisions for abortions in the case of incest or rape.


3 Comments on "University visited by controversial exhibit"

  1. Interesting. I wholeheartedly agree with their presence at FIU, despite my views on the matter (which are actually quite complex).

    But I wonder if such tactics are effective. Is comparing abortion to genocide really the proper way to go about expressing opposition? People tend to react negatively to such strategies, viewing them as emotionally exploitive or melodramatic.

    Then again, the group’s objective is to bring up discussion, which will certainly be the case.

  2. Cheryle Freiberger | March 23, 2011 at 1:04 AM | Reply

    Kalman…it’s not a religious issue but a human rights and civil rights issue…and yes , not “you” but your “actions..abortion” are being attacked as both selfish and a crime against humanity…just as slaveholding was “attacked’..

  3. An “educated” English teacher finds it an attack on her rights to be told that an aborted child was a developing child that has rights of his or her own. You don’t have to be religious to know that killing a child at whatever age is wrong. But it was convenient to do it for her, since she wanted to continue in her “education”. Close your legs next time, why don’t you.

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