CSUSM issues warning about 'graphic anti-abortion display'

California State University, San Marcos is warning students that an “anti-abortion” display will be present on campus next week, pledging resources to help those who find it “disturbing and offensive.”

“The University has been made aware that on Feb. 13 and 14 the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) will return to campus to conduct a presentation called the Genocide Awareness Project on our campus,” the email from the CSUSM Office of Communications begins.

CBR is a national pro-life organization known for displaying graphic images of aborted fetuses, and plans to host a traveling exhibit of such photos in the school’s centrally located Kellogg Plaza.

“This presentation is a graphic anti-abortion display,” the university declares in its announcement. “Members of our campus community may find this content disturbing and offensive.”

The email concedes that “the group’s right to present this display on campus is protected under the First Amendment,” but emphasizes that “this is not a university-sponsored presentation,” and cautions students who may wish to protest the pro-life display that “if you decide to engage with [CBR] volunteers, please be aware that they are known to videotape interactions and conversations.”

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Notably, the school is offering a variety of resources to student who “may need assistance” dealing with the presence of a pro-life group on campus, and is pledging to keep both the Student Health & Counseling Center and the Gender Equity Center “open and available to students” while CBR is on campus.

On Feb. 14, for instance, faculty members from the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral, and Social Sciences will be a holding “A Conversation about Reproductive Justice,” which will be free for any member of the campus community who wishes to attend.

In addition, CSUSM notes that “our Student Health and Counseling Services will staff two resource tables in the plaza area from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Feb. 13 and 14” that students can visit if they feel triggered by the anti-abortion imagery.

Nathan Apodaca, a Campus Reform campus correspondent and the president of Students for Life at CSUSM, which is helping to organize the CBR display, said he considered the campus-wide alert somewhat hyperbolic, but isn’t bothered by the school’s reaction.

“We don't think it's necessary for the school to send out a warning to all students, as we do put up signs on the walkways to warn passersby of what is ahead, but it is helpful in that it does let people who don't want to see the display know that it will be on campus,” Apodaca told Campus Reform. “The images are very graphic, but they are necessary to show the public just what abortion is: namely, an act that decapitates and dismembers an innocent human being, without proper justification.”

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“I would hope the school would invite a pro-life panelist to participate in the [faculty] discussion,” he remarked in reference to the “Reproductive Justice” panel, but conceded that “it is doubtful that they will,” given the number of past events held by the university at which no pro-life panelists were present.

Indeed, this is not the first time that CSUSM has felt compelled to warn its students about pro-life imagery, having sent out a nearly-identical email in September ahead of a previous visit by the CBR’s Genocide Awareness Project.

Nonetheless, College-Wide Student Initiatives Coordinator John Scheuerman assured Campus Reform that the faculty panel "is not a debate about pro-life versus pro-choice, but rather a conversation by experts on the topic of reproductive justice," adding that each faculty member would "speak to this issue from their own disciplinary/interdisciplinary expertise."

Campus Reform contacted CSUSM for additional information about the school’s response to the CBR’s visit, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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