“Unborn Lives Matter” Flyers Torn Down Across Campus
By Benjamin Pontz, Managing News Editor
On Wednesday evening, members of the Gettysburg College Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) hung approximately 80 flyers advertising their upcoming event, a lecture by pro-life activist Angela “Bay” Buchanan to be held November 29, that included, in large font, “Unborn Lives Matter.”
According to YAF’s Acting Chairman, Nick Arbaugh ’20, “over half” of the flyers were torn down within the first 24 hours after they had been hung. Arbaugh did not know who was responsible for tearing down the flyers, but he expressed disappointment — albeit not surprise — that people would tear them down.
“Although I can’t say I am shocked, I am still disappointed that members of our campus community continue to think that they are the quintessential arbiters of political speech on campus,” he said. “Three words on a piece of paper should not be enough to vex you into stripping away the rights of others.”
Arbaugh said YAF is “determined to” keep replacing removed flyers; he acknowledged that even since they have started posting new ones — in some cases, reinforcing them with additional tape — people continue to tear them down. He said that some professors have offered to help hang new flyers after expressing “dismay” that some have been torn down.
According to the college’s posting policy, “Removing or covering … [otherwise compliant] postings of other students or groups is a violation of this policy.”
Jeff Foster, Associate Vice President of College Life, said that the college investigates incidents of unauthorized poster removal and that parties found responsible can be subject to student conduct sanctions, but he emphasized that such investigations do not necessarily ascertain the parties responsible. He urged students who object to YAF’s event to comply with college policy and find ways other than removing the flyers to protest the event.
“Consistent with our mission, we will continue to work to provide an environment where members of the community can openly discuss issues and support those who want to challenge ideas with which they disagree,” he said. “Students can express their dissenting views in a number of ways as long as it is done in a manner consistent with College policy.”
A budget request made to Student Senate, which allocated $3,087 to YAF to bring Buchanan to campus, said the event is intended to “further the dialogue” surrounding abortion that began when College Democrats hosted Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL Pro Choice America, in September.
For their part, College Democrats released a statement in reference to the flyers on Facebook that read, “We are disappointed that Young Americans for Freedom once again chose to equate the work of Black Lives Matter to their disapproval of legal abortion. We believe that the choice to have an abortion is deeply personal and that the freedom to make such a difficult decision should continue to be protected by the law. Instead of sensationalizing the issue through posters meant to illicit (sic) anger, we encourage everyone to think deeper about the issues and engage in informed discussion.”
Further, Democrats have planned their own event to occur at the same time — Nov. 29 at 7:00 p.m. — at which Former Deputy Attorney General of Delaware Abby Layton will speak. That event is in Glatfelter 103, while YAF’s event is in Mara Auditorium.
Arbaugh responded, “The virtue signalling of the College Democrats isn’t worth dignifying. I’ve neither the time nor the crayons to explain to them that YAF doesn’t need their approval.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon to add a comment from Jeff Foster, Associate Vice President of College Life, who was previously unavailable to comment. (B. Pontz)