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Free speech and clubs — a complicated relationship

Multiple anti-abortion statements have appeared on Salisbury University's sidewalks over the past few weeks. Kate Carpenter, a junior, saw one that read "heartbeat starts at five weeks" near the Guerrieri Student Union building on April 10.

Students for Life of America, an organization recognized by SU, created these messages according to Carpenter. Discussions will soon begin between this pro-life organization and pro-choice students.

The goal is not to prohibit pro-life organizations from having a place on SU.

"The point is not 'you need to be pro-choice.' It is your body, it is your choice," Carpenter said.

However, Students for Life of America's messaging tactics raise an important question.

How will the appearance of public anti-abortion sentiments influence university visitors?

Do student organizations represent the community as a whole?

SU has standards to abide by "as a recipient of federal funds," according to the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action webpage.

This should also apply to university community members.

This is not to say organizations such as Students for Life of America do not have a place on campus. All voices should be heard at higher education, even those we disagree with. Free speech matters.

However, when students organize to promote ideals on a university campus, their public activities become part of their university's image. This includes seemingly inconsequential sidewalk chalk.

What comes of the dialogue with Students for Life remains to be seen. I hope to see results that allow SU to maintain a welcoming atmosphere for pro-choice and pro-life students.



Editorial editor

Staff photo courtesy of Brad Boardman

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Students for Life is a registered student organization.

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