Created Equal, an anti-abortion group, closed out its Midwest college campus tour at SVSU from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11.
Earlier in the week, the organization visited Eastern Michigan University, Ferris State University and Oakland University.
Lexie Hall, the media representative for the tour, helped Created Equal set up in the President’s Courtyard.
The organization had a six-by-eight-foot long jumbotron showing “graphic videos of living human fetuses being aborted,” according to a Created Equal press release.
The organization also displayed 10 images showing “the victims of abortion,” Hall said.
Hall said Created Equal is a “human rights organization.”
“We are trying to protect the innocent human beings in the womb from being killed, and we are trying to expose the truth about what abortion is and engage in conversation and civil dialogues to change peoples’ minds,” she said.
Created Equal was started in 2011. The organization has been running college tours since its inception.
“We call into the schools and tell them we are going to be here, line it all up,” Hall said. “We’re welcomed at all the schools we have gone to. A lot of schools don’t like us to be here, but we are using our First Amendment right of free speech to show the truth.”
Hall and other Created Equal representatives wore body cameras during the tour.
“We experience a lot of violence by doing this,” Hall said. “There are a lot of people who like to damage our property, damage our signs and, sometimes, come after us and damage us. So, we have to have these occurrences on record if we are threatened.”
Hall said the organization also uses the footage for social media.
“We do use it on social media, but our main purpose of having it on is because of the violence,” she said. “If we didn’t have the violence, we wouldn’t have to be wearing (the cameras).”
Hall said the goal of the tours is to change peoples’ minds about abortion.
“We had 60 mind changes yesterday at Ferris,” she said. “Mind changes are when somebody is for abortion for any reason, and by the end of the conversation, they say that it is always wrong to have an abortion, and they think it should be illegal.”
Hall said the group had about 112 mind changes between Ferris, EMU and Oakland.
SVSU students protested the event, including Dylan Konarzewski, a social work senior. He had been giving a tour of SVSU while Created Equal was in the President’s Courtyard. After the tour ended, he came out to protest.
“I do believe that everybody has the right to their opinion,” he said. “I’m OK with having healthy arguments with pro-life people, but the way they are doing it today is completely not OK. It’s very traumatizing for people who had already had this procedure, especially those who didn’t want it or were forced to have it.”
Konarzewski said having the event on a day when multiple tours were scheduled was problematic.
“Having a video with a jumbotron with these fetuses being aborted is just disgusting,” he said. “We have tours on this campus today. We had to warn our families that this is not SVSU.”
Music education major Channah Lotter said the event was a “great idea.”
“People aren’t informed about this,” she said. “People will make decisions before they are fully informed about both sides. I’ve been told (Creating Equal is) already changing minds and had conversations with people who are knowledgeable about the subject.”
Lotter said Hall talked to her about how to get involved with the organization.
“People want to be part of this, but no one ever takes the initiative to find out,” she said. “(Hall) tried to inform me on how I could be part of it, too.”
Nathan Binder, a mechanical engineering senior, said Created Equal does not represent the views of all individuals, including himself. Binder served on the eboard of SVSU’s organization, Protect Life, from 2016 to 2018.
“We spoke about bringing this event to campus, but we were always concerned with how it could affect students who have had traumatic experiences,” he said. “From what I have heard, Protect Life has only served as a facilitator for this event. The organization Created Equal has been touring Michigan universities and worked through Protect Life to reserve a space.”
While Binder said the images can often lead to conversation and “shed light on what really happens during an abortion,” he said the images are still overall problematic.
“The problem with a display like this in public is that it does not convey the love, acceptance and help that so many pro-life people and organizations offer,” he said. “The display is true, but it misses much of the purpose behind the pro-life movement. Pro-life people want humans to have just and meaningful lives from the moment life begins to the moment they die.”
Indigo Dudley, a music fifth-year, said she was “very uncomfortable” with the Created Equal visit.
“The fact that I was basically bombarded with this – I don’t feel comfortable with that,” she said. “I did not come here to campus to see that today. The fact that it can be very triggering to some people, and the fact that there was no notification about it was very upsetting.”
Dudley also said she did not see any trigger warning signs for the event. When asked about the signs around noon, Hall said the organization must have forgotten to put them out, or that the organization was not putting up warnings for the event.
Dudley said SVSU should have told students the visit would be happening.
“We can have stuff sent out about the FIRST Robotics, but we can’t have an email sent out about this?” she said. “Students were not notified of this. It was kept underground for a while, and I would like to know why. I’m done speculating, and I want an answer. … Today was not a great day to be a Cardinal.”
Want to sound off? Reach The Valley Vanguard at Kaitlyn Farley (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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