Boca House proposes a warning system for abortion protests

This came in light of recent controversial events on the FAU Boca campus


The anti-abortion protests often have warning signs in front of them. Photo courtesy of the FAU National Organization of Women Twitter.

Israel Fontoura, Student Government Editor

Last Friday, the Boca Raton House of Representatives passed a resolution with a vote of 25-5 to have FAU’s administration notify students of abortion protesters presence on campus.


The resolution will help students be aware of the demonstration on campus via email or similar system. This will still need to be approved by administration.


Created Equal, an anti-abortion organization based in Ohio, comes to FAU every semester — but the time or date is never advertised to students. Since last Fall, the organization has brought a JumboTron TV with them on campus. For hours, it displays graphic images of abortions outside the Social Science building.


With large posters lined against the path of the free speech lawn, protestors also hand out pamphlets with graphic images.


Rep. Gabriella Miernik, who authored the resolution, said, “I feel as though it’s the least [FAU] can do.”


House representatives voiced their concern for the safety of protestors, given the recent incident where a traveling preacher was hit with a golf cart last month.


The legislation only regards notifying students of the abortion protests, not the several preachers who came onto the FAU Boca campus to spread anti-feminist and anti-LGBT messages.


Miernik explained that the email alert would not encourage students to target the protestors, but to stay away. “If you have not interacted with them head on, they are very aggressive,” she said.


Miernik said that the notification system would function like FAU’s emergency alerts and will not incite violence, “if that were to happen, it already would have,” she said.


Rep. Kitana Thomas, who sponsored the resolution, said she had been harassed by the group during her first semester at FAU.


“When I first came here, I was verbally attacked and followed to my classroom because I told them my views,” Thomas said.


During public forum, Joi Dean, President of the National Organization for Women, showed her support for the resolution.


“It is the university’s responsibility to protect not only the physical health but the mental health of students who are affected by these protestors,” Dean said.


According to Dean, protestors run toward, harass, scream at, and film students. “It’s not fair, to have to walk there. There should be something in place to protect students,” Dean said.


“For some people who have experienced an abortion or miscarriage, seeing these graphic images [is] misinformation. These are pictures of miscarriages, these are not abortions, these are not the scary things they make it seem,” Dean said.


Matthew Taudien, president of College Democrats, also spoke in support of the resolution.


“We can try to make this campus a better place for students, a more inclusive place for students. And a place where people will feel safe and comfortable, without someone screaming in their face, with photographs of aborted fetuses,” Taudien said.


Natasha Roberts, vice president of the Planned Parenthood organization at FAU called Generation Action, said her experience with the group in the past three years has been emotional.


Roberts puts on a counter-protests, spreading positive messages, handing out flowers and condoms to students.


“Throughout my experiences, a lot of people have come up to me and they’ve been a little upset, they’ve been a little bit shocked, and they thanked me for doing something positive because they didn’t know this was going on. I’ve had people hug me, I’ve had people on the verge of tears,” Roberts said.


Roberts believes the warning will be beneficial to the student body. “It will help students on this campus who are trying to get an education,” Roberts said.


You can read the bills and agenda here, and watch the meeting here.


The House of Representatives will meet again on March 22 in the House Chambers at 3:30 p.m.


Israel Fontoura is a student government editor with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, follow him on Twitter @israelofontoura or email [email protected]