Activists take stand,
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
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
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,
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.