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Within the past two quarters, the abortion debate on campus has risen to an astronomical level. While I will not personally reveal my position on abortion, I feel that the materials the UCSB community has been exposed to have become increasingly more violent and triggering, meaning these materials often invoke a highly negative and/or emotional, mental or psychological response by people who have been affected.
Recently, I’ve seen more overwhelmingly insensitive material from the Pro-Life groups (both stemming from this campus and from off-campus organizations) on UCSB grounds. Personally, I feel their position on abortion is not the offensive matter in question, but I have a serious problem with their approach in how they are trying to educate and “inform” the student body.
In the case of recent events that have taken place, such as the “Graveyard” that took place in front of the SRB Fall Quarter and the overwhelmingly bloody and gory pictures that were displayed in the Arbor on March 4, 2014, UCSB students were given no warning that these events would be taking place; instead, students such as myself have had the unfortunate experience of being ambushed by these triggering materials. While I do believe events such as the “Graveyard” event — where numerous white crosses were placed in the lawn outside of the SRB signifying a ceremony for the loss of life — can be very beneficial for some, I feel students should be given the opportunity to actively choose to be a part of such events, not have the issue thrown at them while biking or walking through public pathways.
This is becoming increasingly unacceptable and insensitive. I understand that all are entitled to freedom of speech to express one’s opinions, but students should be given a warning before they are subjected to seeing such images blatantly placed in front of them. These groups have taken no consideration to the individuals who are directly or indirectly affected by abortion. UCSB prides itself on inclusivity and diversity, yet these groups have actively chosen to ignore the myriad people these images negatively impact. These groups have chosen to overlook these experiences, placing harmful and potentially damaging materials in front of students without so much as a warning. Student announcements are sent out every day, giving students warnings about numerous things; why aren’t such events required to do the same? I don’t think any group should be above that. It’s not the position I have a problem with, but rather the approach that is very insensitive, non-inclusive, violent and dangerous. These groups have failed to give students the right to choose to partake in such events, stripping individuals from their choice to practice self-care in topics as deep as abortion.
I am in no way representing any group I am affiliated with in regards to my opinion on this matter; however, as a student, I feel personally affected by the insensitivity shown towards the countless people who are affected by abortion. I am overwhelmed by these events and images, and I feel empathy for the students I witnessed crying after these protests. My intention is not to bash these groups, as the groups themselves and their position on abortion are of no pressing issue to me; however, their approach has been very triggering and problematic, especially in times as stressful as finals.
These groups are threatening the well-being of students, yet nothing is being done. We should not feel unsafe on our own campus. These acts of shaming and violence are beyond unacceptable, and in no case have these groups warned the student body before showing such images on campus. These groups need to see that although they are successful in initiating a response, it is not always about the damage you know you’re doing, but the damage you unknowingly do.
Delyla Mayers is a second-year feminist studies and sociology major.