Bama Students for Life / University of Alabama

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Description:  A University of Alabama official removed a pro-life student group’s hallway display without any notification to the group after she claimed that some people found the display offensive.

U. of Ala. apologizes for removing ‘offensive’ pro-life display

Bama Students for Life display returns to student center Thursday
Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Attorney sound bite:  Matt Sharp

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A pro-life student group’s display will return to a hallway at the University of Alabama Thursday. The university apologized Monday to Bama Students for Life, represented by attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, for an official’s decision to remove the display on Feb. 6 because some people said they found it “offensive.”

The official removed the display from its place in the Ferguson Student Center without any notification to the group. After Bama Students for Life, with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, registered a formal complaint about the incident last week, the center’s director apologized for the display’s removal and said he would allow the group to put it back up.

“Censorship is inconsistent with ‘the marketplace of ideas’ that a public university is supposed to be,” said Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “We commend the university for its quick response to Bama Students for Life’s free speech concerns.”

The display, which featured several abortion-related facts, pictures of women who died as a result of having an abortion, and two small pictures of aborted babies, was among numerous other student group displays in a hallway of the Ferguson Student Center. The president of Bama Students for Life captured the center’s event coordinator on video claiming that university policy allows her to remove displays that have “offensive or graphic material”; however, the university’s policy pertaining to display cases mentions nothing about offensive or graphic content.

The complaint letter that Bama Students for Life sent to the university explained its concern that the removal of the display violated the group’s constitutionally protected freedoms. It also pointed out other displays at the university that did not undergo the same degree of scrutiny.

On Monday, President of Bama Students for Life Claire Chretien received an e-mail from Ferguson Center Student Union Director Carl Bacon that said, “Please accept my apology that your display was removed without your knowledge two days before your reserved time expired.” The letter goes on to offer times and dates available for the return of the display.

Bama Students for Life intends to return the display to the same location Thursday afternoon, and Students for Life of America Campus Mentor Pat Mahoney will travel to the campus in the wake of the incident to speak on Wednesday night.

“This is a significant victory for pro-life students, and I know this case will now inspire hundreds of our other Students for Life groups to courageously stand for their beliefs,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, which honored Bama Students for Life as its 2014 Group of the Year.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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Additional resources: Bama Students for Life / University of Alabama

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Previous news releases:

  • 2014-02-11: U. of Ala. removes ‘offensive’ pro-life display

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