Two large speakers playing somber piano music and a trailer with a 9-by-12 foot Jumbotron displaying graphic videos and images of abortions were stationed outside the Marshall Student Center on Monday.
This was the scene, lasting from early in the morning to late in the afternoon, led by Created Equal, an anti-abortion organization that believes abortion is a severe form of ageism, to protest abortions to students on campus.
Seth Drayer, director of training for Created Equal, picked up a wireless microphone from a folding table with several laminated diagrams of abortions.
With the piano music still playing, he began to speak.
“Every single human—whether you’re rich or poor, young or old, black or white, male or female, whether you’ve had an abortion or you’ve not had an abortion, whether you’re born or pre-born — every single human-being is created equal,” Drayer said.
Mark Harrington, executive director for Created Equal, stood nearby. He said the group was trying to raise awareness of contemporary ageism, or age discrimination, or what he describes as abortion.
Harrington said every reason for rationalizing abortion is based on age.
“Abortion supporters will say that ‘The pre-born are not the same size, they’re not as developed, or they’re inside their mother’s womb, or they’re dependent on their mothers,’” he said. “Those are all age-based criteria.”
People walking past the display had varying reactions.
Some stood and stared, some looked and walked on, and some were vocal about their thoughts.
Jennifer Barber, a USF alumna and mother of a current USF student, said she thought the display was “far too in-your-face.”
“I understand the need to protest, I understand everybody has a voice,” she said. “But this is far too graphic about something that we sometimes don’t have control over.”
Emily Reed, a senior majoring art history, wasn’t enthusiastic about the display either.
“It’s very well-put-together, and (Drayer)’s very knowledgeable,” she said. “But I think it’s a little exploitative of the fetuses that have been aborted. It disregards situations where abortions can be necessary,” Reed said.
She also said a woman speaking, instead of Drayer, would have had “a little bit more credence.”
While there were people who disagreed with Harrington and his group, there were people who said they felt the display was necessary.
“For the most part, a lot of people just walk by,” Mark said. “But the photos speak louder than words, and the video is even stronger than just photos. We’re not trying to reach the 20 percent who are strongly pro-abortion or the 20 percent that are pro-life. They’re not going to change their minds — it’s the middle-ground folks.”
Mark Harrington said the group first came to USF two years ago. Last year, they were in front of the Library, sans Jumbotron.
Luke Harrington, Mark Harrington’s son and administrative assistant for Created Equal, spoke to passers-by about the group’s cause. Luke said the approach with the Jumbotron, which he said costs about $4,000 per day to rent, helps further Created Equal’s cause.
“It was a little more of an open space,” Luke said about the decision to change the display’s location. “We definitely have gotten more flow from the Marshall Student Center.”
USF, he said, is the first university where they’ve used the Jumbotron.
“I think Americans are becoming more pro-life,” Mark said.
But, he said, Americans need to be more responsible when it comes to sexuality.
“When we become more responsible, we won’t need abortion.”
USF Media and Public Affairs Coordinator Adam Freeman said the group requested permission to use the space outside the Marshall Center using an Event Request form through the USF Cornerstone Student Fellowship student organization.
“USF’s a public institution that believes in and values free speech,” Freeman said.
People are allowed to do events like this, he said, “so long as the event doesn’t hinder the normal learning environment.”