Tuesday, February 26, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 101


 
 









 
Activists take stand, censure

By Ken Fountain
Senior Staff Writer

An anti-abortion group unaffiliated with the University displayed posters with graphic depictions of aborted fetuses along the sidewalks of Butler Plaza
(between the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library and Philip Hoffman Hall) for about an hour and a half Monday before leaving under threat of arrest.

"Survivors" is a Lake Arrowhead, Calif.-based organization "designed to both educate and activate High School and College age students as their legacy as Survivors of the greatest Holocaust in world history," according to its Web site.


Lorrie Novosad/The Daily Cougar


A student stops by an anti-abortion display brought to Butler Plaza without permission from the University by "Survivors," a California-based organization that compares abortion to the Holocaust.

UH officials told members of the group they had failed to secure permission to set up their display under the procedures outlined in the Student Life Policies
published in the 2001-2002 UH Student Handbook.

UH General Counsel Dennis Duffy and UH Police Department Lt. Roger Byars told Dan McCullough, the group's national director, the approximately seven
group members would have to remove the posters and leave or face arrest.

After first saying the group would remain, McCullough told Byars, "We'll go ahead and leave, but only because we have been threatened with arrest."

The group members then picked up the posters, packed them into a trailer being towed by their recreational vehicle and drove away. Group member Cheryl
Conrad said the group was "in the process of suing" the University of Texas System, and threatened to file suit against UH as well.

According to the Student Life Policies, groups wishing to hold an event that is "potentially disruptive" must receive permission from the Dean of Students
Office as to the "time, place and manner of the event" at least two weeks prior.

Four campus sites are listed as authorized for such events, and Butler Plaza is not one of them.

Keith Mason, director of the Midwest chapter of Survivors, said the group had attempted to secure permission through a letter about a month ago, but "we felt
like we were blown off."

Dean of Students William Munson said the group first made its request by fax Feb. 5. The next day, Munson responded by sending a copy of the UH policies,
he said.

During a phone conversation May 14, McCullough told Munson the group had not yet made a reservation through the UC Reservations Office, and Munson
told him that would be the "the best first step." McCullough told him, "We'll get back to you," Munson said.

Munson said he sent a fax to the group confirming the substance of the phone call, and restating that since the group had not made a reservation, it would
not be expected on campus Monday.

Mason confirmed the group was aware of the University's policies.

While none of the Survivors members are affiliated with UH, among the spectators was political science junior Jeanne Tullos, chairwoman of Pro-Life
Cougars, a group that attempted to bring a 15,000-square-foot display with similar photographs to Butler Plaza in November but was denied permission.

Tullos' group filed a federal lawsuit against the University, Vice President for Student Affairs Elwyn Lee and Dean of Students William Munson in January,
claiming its First Amendment right to free speech was violated.
 
 
 

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