This morning, the President of Western Kentucky University, Gary Ransdell, released and sent a statement (pasted below) to all of those who have expressed concerns over the desecration of the pro-life crosses on their campus last Friday morning with condoms by another WKU student, attempting to receive art class credit.
The facts of the case that the university has released are correct and in accordance with the facts we previously detailed. (Watch a video of the condoms being put on the crosses here.)
However, WKU is still not answering the serious constitutional concerns that SFLA has regarding this troubling case.
– The university has not asked the student who put condoms on the pro-life groups’ crosses to apologize to the group. To date, no formal and public apology for the desecration has been made to John Sohl, president of Hilltoppers for Life, or the entire group. If an apology was made, it was not made to Hilltoppers for Life.
– The WKU Campus Police have still not apologized for failing to uphold the constitutional rights of Hilltoppers for Life by demanding on arrival that the art student remove her condoms from the crosses immediately and taking her into custody for vandalizing and desecrating an approved event on campus.
– We have still not be able to determine from the university whether or not the art student will receive class credit for putting her condoms on the pro-life group’s crosses.
– The university has not yet assured us that the art student who desecrated the display will be disciplined for her vandalism.
-Kristina Arnold, the art professor of the student who placed the condoms on the crosses, has come out stating that she has no problem with the cross desecration, considers it a learning process, and may give the student class credit. WKU’s President thinks the issue is settled but there have been no apologies issued. Does the President, support Professor Arnold’s statement? Additionally, the student was armed with enough condoms to cover all the crosses, 3,700 of them. Who paid for the condoms – were they obtained from the student health center or a nearby abortion clinic? Did the school help pay for these “art” supplies?
We respectfully ask that President Ransdell and Western Kentucky University do 4 things immediately to remedy this situation and put it to rest:
1) Have Campus Police publicly apologize to Hilltoppers for Life for failing to uphold the constitutional rights of the approved pro-life group on campus
2) Ask the art student to issue a public apology to Hilltoppers for Life for desecrating an approved educational display
3) Confirm in writing that the art student did not receive any class credit for the desecration act and how the student will be disciplined for her vandalism and for interfering with Hilltoppers for Life’s expression.
4) Confirm in writing that the university did not pay for the condoms which desecrated the display.
CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE!
Until further notice, we continue to ask pro-lifers from across the county to sign our nationwide petition to WKU and continue to contact WKU Police Captain of Professional Standards, Joe Harbaugh, at his non-emergency number, 270-745-2543 or [email protected] to express your outrage and demand the university police apologize to WKU Hilltoppers for Life and to train the campus police that putting condoms on someone else’s crosses is not art or freedom of expression, it is desecration and vandalization.
Thank you so much for all of your support helping us to uphold the constitutional rights of student pro-lifers across the nation.
April 24th Western Kentucky University Response:
Thank you for your recent email regarding the unfortunate and distasteful act which occurred at the Hilltoppers for Life pro-life display on the WKU campus last Thursday night. My colleagues on the faculty and staff at WKU take this matter very seriously. Unfortunately, Dean Dennis George was incorrectly identified as a responsible party. He is a Dean of one of six undergraduate colleges and in no way relates to our campus Police or student disciplinary procedures.
In response to your message, we offer the following insights. The pro-life display was created by a sanctioned official WKU student organization called Hilltoppers for Life. They requested and received permission to create their display which consisted of red and black paper covering the bleacher seats of our campus amphitheater with several small crosses made from popsicle sticks glued to the paper. It was on display during the week of April 16 and was taken down, as scheduled on Friday morning, April 20.
On the morning of April 20 at around 2:30 a.m., one student and her non-student boyfriend chose to place condoms over some of the crosses as a gesture of birth control. They said it was an assignment from an Art Installation course that involves placing art exhibits across campus. The faculty member’s intent of the art assignment was not to target this particular display. That decision was made by the student who chose to make her own statement for birth control at the expense of the Hilltoppers for Life endeavor.
The Hilltoppers for Life students keeping watch over the exhibit, after allowing a few hundred condoms to be placed on the crosses, eventually called the police who arrived promptly. It was a calm scene and the police chose to keep it that way. They allowed the student to remove the condoms and leave peacefully—which is what occurred. There was no aggressive behavior or incident. The display was not damaged other than the disrespectful symbolism that this incident unfortunately created.
When I and the appropriate administrators learned of the situation, we promptly issued a statement in support of free speech and that the University does not condone any attempts by individuals or groups to inhibit anyone’s or any group’s right to free speech or creative activity. The proper administrators have also met with the student and faculty member. Our message was direct and firm.
No member of our University family should impede another member of our family’s freedom of speech or creative effort, especially when it comes to exercising religious freedoms. The offending student has apologized. This matter has been dealt with properly, decisively, and brought to a conclusion. Your interest in and support of WKU and its priorities for First Amendment rights is appreciated.
Gary A. Ransdell