Opinion: FAU needs to do a better job at warning students of traumatizing events

An anti-abortion group comes onto campus every year without notice, presenting graphic images of torn-up fetuses. Where is our warning?


A group of students stand by the free speech lawn, discussing the demonstration as others keep their distance. Photo by Chris Blackshear

Sophie Siegel, Staff Writer


Every year at the Boca campus free speech lawn, an anti-abortion group called Created Equal comes to campus to show photos of bloody fetuses and to talk about abortion with the FAU population.


However, you may not even have known they were coming, or on what day they would arrive. In past years, it’s been the same  — no one really knows when they’re going to be be on campus. They visited the university again on Tuesday, but like always, FAU neglected to tell the student body properly.


Instead, on the way to class, we had to encounter this demonstration that includes gory and possibly triggering photos with little to no warning.


The only “warning” given on the day of the event were small signs scattered along the perimeter of the site. Someone like myself, who already has shitty eyesight to begin with, could easily miss these signs. They were also blocked by the large, disturbing photos, not to mention the JumboTron television playing videos of abortions and dissected babies.


To get onto the free speech lawn, you have to get approval from FAU. The university obviously knew the anti-abortion group was coming, as you need to reserve any space on campus as many as 10 business days prior to the event. 


A local journalist at the anti-abortion demonstration even mentioned a press release to me and my friends. I later googled it and found out that a few news outlets had knowledge of this event.


But where was the warning to the students who have to walk past these graphic images of “aborted” babies covered in blood on a large jumbotron, or gory embroys next to quarters to demonstrate the size? 

The University of Florida had a white nationalist, Richard Spencer, speak on campus last year. UF gave their students a warning for the event, knowing it would cause trauma and bring on controversy.


While these may be very different events, they both trigger an array of emotions and impact students who are targeted by these viewpoints. So why doesn’t FAU follow suit with the anti-abortion group?


My organization, Young Democratic Socialists, and others like Generation Action and the Philosophy Club handed out resources such as sexual assault hotlines and FAU mental health resources in areas close to the demonstration — but we couldn’t reach everyone.


I really don’t care about your stance on the abortion argument. Mine is probably obvious. I am pro-choice, but I think we can all agree that it’s unfair for students to walk past this without proper warning.


I understand that these groups have grounds to be here at a public university, just like how I have my right to disagree with them and not want them to come back due to how traumatizing these images are.


I want to be warned to avoid it, though.


The anti-abortion group was also equating the Holocaust and slavery to abortion. This came across as highly offensive considering the fact that just this past weekend, there was a shooting in a synagogue called “Tree of Life” in Pittsburgh.


One can imagine how students — such as myself, a Jewish woman — are coping with seeing this graphic imagery and hearing about the Holocaust in that context without warning.


Imagine how those who had to make the difficult choice of having an abortion must feel, or those who had a miscarriage. They deserve to be warned about it.  


My big tip to FAU is if they are going to push mental health resources, they could at the very least give a shit about their students and provide us with a better warning.


So here are some resources for mental health, sex education and sexual assault counseling:

FAU Counseling and Psychological Services

FAU Women and Gender Center

FAU Owl’s Care

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network

Planned Parenthood


Sophie Siegel is a staff writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].