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University of Wisconsin Student Govt Leader Vandalizes Pro-Life Display

by Steven Ertelt | WASHINGTON, DC | LIFENEWS.COM | 5/7/08 9:00 AM

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University of Wisconsin Student Govt Leader Vandalizes Pro-Life Display

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 7
, 2008

Stevens Point, WI (LifeNews.com) — A University of Wisconsin Stevens Point student government leader is coming under fire for allegedly trashing a pro-life display on campus. Student senator Roderick King is said to have vandalized a display featuring crosses erected by the campus pro-life group to memorialize those babies killed in abortions.

The UWSP pro-life group Pointers for Life put up the Cemetery of the Innocents display and spent the morning last Thursday repairing the damage someone caused in an apparent vandalizism.

That’s when they were trashed a second time.

As students repaired the earlier damage, King led a group of angry students by walking through the rows of small crosses and plucking them from the ground and throwing them.

The national pro-life college group Students for Life of America told LifeNews.com that King began to voice his complaints and said that Pointers for Life had "no right" to display the crosses.

King said it was "his duty as a paying student" to take down the pro-life display.

The pro-life students notified campus Protective Services and, when an officer arrived, most of the students stopped vandalizing the display. However, King did not stop and claimed, "The freedom of speech does not cover these signs and symbols."

According to a video pro-life students posted on YouTube, King refused to stop vandalizing the pro-life display until the campus security officer told him he would have to compensate the pro-life group for the damages he caused.

"If students had a problem with the display, they could exercise their freedom of speech maturely by protesting it peacefully, not by defacing our display," Jackie Kryzkowski, president of the pro-life student group, said in response.

After the incident, Bob Tomlinson, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, apologized to Pointers for Life for the vandalism. Student government senators Katie Kloth and Erica Wardle reportedly stopped by the display and told the pro-life students they had properly reserved the space for the display and had a right to host it.

The evening of the vandalism, Pointers for Life submitted a complaint to the Student Government Association and asked for King to submit his resignation or face discipline from the body.

Students for Life of America tells LifeNews.com the SGA has yet to take any action against King.

Kryzkowski complained that the SGA has a responsibility to represent the rights of the members of her group.

"Student senators should be helping to defend our freedom of speech, not trying to take it away because of personal beliefs," she said.

Ryan Wrasse, another member of the pro-life group, added, "The SGA could either vote to retain Senator King and condone this type of behavior, or remove him from Senate and send a clear message to UWSP students and faculty that this type of behavior will not be tolerated."

Kristan Hawkins, the executive director of Students for Life of America, told LifeNews.com the situation is similar to the repeated acts of censorship taking place against pro-life student groups in Canada.

"This event shows that our country is not immune to the situation going on in Canada right now, where campus pro-life groups are being singled out and excluded from the guaranteed freedom of speech and expression on college campuses," she said.

Hawkins said this was not the first time a pro-life student display in the U.S. had been vandalized.

In April 2006, abortion advocates vandalized and destroyed a pro-life display at Northern Kentucky University. Six students joined Sally Jacobsen, a British literature professor in destroying a display of crosses Northern Right to Life set up to memorialize the babies who have died from abortions.

They trashed the crosses and ripped up a sign that accompanied them and their actions were caught on film by a reporter from the student newspaper.

Jacobsen was charged with theft, criminal mischief and criminal solicitation but those charges were dropped after a court demanded that she apologize. Beforehand, she defended her actions and when the vandalism came under scrutiny, she encouraged the students not to talk to police and to get their own attorneys.

The court required Jacobsen to complete a mediation and she agreed to pay Northern Right to Life for the costs of the display. Jacobsen also made a $1,000 donation to the Madonna House, a Northern Kentucky crisis pregnancy shelter.

Jacobsen was suspended by Northern Kentucky University for the remainder of the school year and her classes given to other professors to complete. She has since retired and moved to Portland, Oregon.

Hawkins said SFLA is calling on pro-life advocates to contact University of Wisconsin -Stevens Point Chancellor of Student Affairs Linda Bunnell asking for Roderick King to be removed from the Student Senate. Contact Bunnell at 715-346-2123 or email her at lbunnell@uwsp.edu.

Related web sites:
Students for Life of America – http://www.studentsforlife.org