SBCC should enforce guidelines for on-campus demonstrators

The Channels Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL


Antony Marchiando

Editorial Cartoon


The ability to freely express yourself and your point of view is one of the most important freedoms we have as citizens of the United States.

The First Amendment grants everyone the right to exercise this power, but it comes with some important limitations.

Last week, an anti-abortion group from Sacramento called Project Truth came to City College to exercise those rights, but we at The Channels Editorial Board feel they went over the line and abused this power. They went beyond just expressing their opinions and came much closer to harmful and harassing, all while administration sat by and watched.

City College has a set of 15 rules any group like Project Truth must agree to before coming to campus. In our opinion, Project Truth violated rules 3, 6, 8 and 9.

The group had signs displayed in multiple areas, almost none of which were on their table. The materials they gave out caused a “substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the community college.” Students were stopped on the sidewalk on their way to class, called “Nazis” for their beliefs and worked up into heated screaming matches. Some students reported not being able to attend class because they had been so affected by the whole situation.

Rules 8 and 9 are the most important violations though.

What happened last week clearly falls under the definition of a “publicity stunt.” They used pictures from the event to promote themselves and their organization, not to promote a healthy discussion on an incredibly important topic. They secretly taped students with small cameras, and used the footage on their Facebook page without their permission.

And according to rule 9, all “non-college individuals/groups will be limited to no more than one (1) event per week.” Project Truth was allowed to demonstrate on both Wednesday and Thursday last week.

Our most important question is a simple one; why didn’t administration step in and protect students from this sort of demonstration?

When asked last week, Student Life Adviser Amy Collins told The Channels that the school is not able to turn anyone away, as long as those demonstrating follow the guidelines.

After these guidelines weren’t followed, administration should have gotten involved and never should have allowed Project Truth to come back after the first day. It’s true they have every right to be here and talk to students, but the graphic images they displayed and the way students were reportedly treated clearly infringed upon the rights of students.

At this point, the First Amendment has become a shield for extremists in America. Groups like Project Truth can do and say almost anything because citizens think of free speech as a zero sum game, but in reality that just isn’t the case. Rape survivors, women who have gone through abortions or even had miscarriages shouldn’t be forced to relive such a terrible experience by seeing overly graphic pictures of a dead fetus. It doesn’t add anything to the argument; it’s simply meant to illicit an emotional response.

Schools should be a safe environment for students to focus on their education. They shouldn’t have to worry about being harassed or triggered on their way to class. It is the duty of City College to provide this environment on campus and by allowing this to take place, the college failed in that duty.