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Feminist Alliance at odds with UT over clinic ads

Staff Reporter

Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Updated: Friday, November 16, 2012 12:11

Members of the UT Feminist Alliance were angered last week after administrators altered their display in the Student Union accusing a local pregnancy center of false advertising.

The display, which was in a display case in the Student Union Building, included the words “This clinic lies to women” with an arrow pointing at an advertisement for free pregnancy tests offered by the Pregnancy Center of Greater Toledo. The Office of Student Involvement removed the arrow and the word “this.”

The Feminist Alliance says its free speech rights were violated, while Dean of Students Michele Martinez says the case is meant for displays with a “positive educational purpose” rather than “negative” messages.

The group is also arguing that the Pregnancy Center should not be allowed to advertise on campus, while the organization’s executive director called the Feminist Alliance’s allegations “completely false.”

UTFA Co-president Hillary Gyuras said the group was protesting because the Pregnancy Center does not properly advertise that it is against abortion. She said this could cause pregnant students to be influenced into making uninformed decisions.   

“A student has the right to go to a clinic that will give them all their options and not pressure them into a decision they aren’t comfortable with,” she said.  

Pregnancy Center Director Janet Bosserman said the assertions that the Pregnancy Center’s advertising is inaccurate are “completely false.”

“We provide free pregnancy tests — that’s what the advertising says,” Bosserman said. “I don’t really know what’s not factual about that.”

Bosserman declined to discuss the Feminist Alliance’s specific allegations about the center, saying nobody from the group has contacted the center with concerns.

“We’re a big service to UT students,” Bosserman said. “They’re very happy that we offer free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, and that we care about them and that we talk to them and that we have a very welcoming place.”

Martinez said the display was altered after a student voiced concern.

Martinez said because the nature of the display was “negative,” she didn’t want the university to be responsible for that type of message.

“It could be considered censorship, but that’s not what I’m doing,” Martinez said. “I don’t ask to see students’ displays before they go up. Typically we just don’t have this problem.”

But Gyuras said UTFA didn’t break any rules.  

“We feel like we were punished,” she said. “They couldn’t show us in the handbook where it broke a rule and they also couldn’t show us where it was allowed to take down the sign. We didn’t feel like it was a good enough justification.”

She said the alteration of the signs was a violation of UTFA’s First Amendment rights.

“The sign wasn’t hate speech; it didn’t start a riot,” Gyuras said.

Martinez said she is sorry if UTFA members were hurt by the way the situation was handled.

“I don’t think this is typical of what we would normally deal with,” Martinez said. “I don’t foresee us needing to OK all bulletin boards, but maybe that’s a recommendation that someone might have.”

The Student Senate on Tuesday passed a resolution backing the Feminist Alliance’s campaign to ban the Pregnancy Center and similar “crisis pregnancy centers” from advertising on campus.

“I can’t say everyone will support it,” said Clayton Notestine, the author of the resolution. “But I know, at least from what we can see with the resolution, nobody objected to it in Student Government and obviously the UTFA is for the resolution to go ahead and have the advertising removed.”

Martinez said while the university wants to consider student opinions, the ads will likely remain in the Student Union.  

“We’re working with someone who is outside the institution that actually took money from that ad,” Martinez said. “I would assume there’s a contract that they’ve already paid and allotted a time to post that ad.”  

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10 comments Log in to Comment

Pro-Life and Pro-Woman Feminist
Fri Nov 16 2012 22:20
I looked up the Pregnancy Center website and did not see a single thing that is false.

These people who call themselves "feminists" are the ones who truly don't trust women. Otherwise why would they try to prevent women from learning about alternatives to abortion? Why can't they trust women to look at information from more than one place and decide for themselves? Why are they so desperate to keep women from having any information that is not approved by them? Why do they want censorship and suppression? Is the thought that a woman might choose life so threatening to them?

Fri Nov 16 2012 15:54
I'm pretty sure free speech rights don't give you protection from posting a childish response next to something you disagree with. The people who put up the arrow should have followed proper procedures to voice their own message.
Fri Nov 16 2012 15:48
The Pregnancy Center is spreading false information and manipulating and taking advantage of vulnerable pregant young women.
What? They shouldn't take a stand against something they find harmful to students??

Conservative ignorance at its best.

Fri Nov 16 2012 13:07
So the feminist alliance is complaining about being censored, but they also want UT to censor the other group by banning their ads?

Liberal tolerance at its best.

Fri Nov 16 2012 12:27
Basically UT wasn't happy with the display and knew they wanted to change the message so that it didn't say what it said originally. They thought they were being subtle by removing the arrow and word "this" but it did change the message of the display. Their whole intent was to change the message, and thus denied the UT feminist alliance of their freedom of speech.

Why didn't UT censor the crude displays last year by the pro-abortion organization who put up pictures of dead and severed fetuses???
I would think THAT display was by far more NEGATIVE than the UT feminist alliances display.

I think UT has another lawsuit coming towards it ;)

Fri Nov 16 2012 06:58
This news article is not about the debate between choice and religion. It's about the silencing of free speech rights. UT has opened themselves up to a free speech lawsuit. Even if the sign was negative, negative speech is free speech. The university can ignore their own mission all they want too, but they cannot ignore the US constitution. I hope Michelle Martinez and UT are sued. Please don't let your beliefs about what rights a woman should or should not have cloud the issue. When one person's free speech is stolen, all people's free speech can be stolen.
Fri Nov 16 2012 01:03
I am for women having all the rights that men do. When a woman is pregnant though, she is now carrying another life inside of her. It is no longer just her body we are talking about. Does the child inside her have no rights?
(Go visit the Museum of Natural History in Chicago to view the child from one day old to 9 months and then tell me that is not a life growing inside the pregnate woman.)
I forgot, It's all about me me me. It's about not taking responsibility for our own actions.
It's about men and women screwing up twice and still not wanting to take responsibility for their actions and trying to cover those mistakes up.
First, Having sex outside of marriage. (Ya, I know, we can't help ourselves with that one) Second, Having unprotected sex. Last resort, Abort! Kill the kid! I can't have this new person messing up my plans for my life.
How selfish are we?!
One time in Germany and other parts of the world, people were brainwashed into thinking it was ok to kill Jewish people. It was later determined to be an atrocity. One time in America and other parts of the world, the slavery of African American people was legal. It was later determined to be an atrocity.
I prey that very soon we realize the atrocity we are presently commiting. We are unfortunately going to go down in history as the generation that allowed this.
Pro-Life and Pro-Woman Feminist
Thu Nov 15 2012 21:13
Being pro-life is not about thinking that women shouldn't control their own destinies. It is not about being anti-woman. And it is insulting to imply that you cannot be both feminist and pro-life.

I am a feminist. I believe women and men are equal. I believe women and men should have equal rights in every way. But nobody has the right to kill another person.

Pro-Woman Feminist
Thu Nov 15 2012 13:03
Everyone should also know that no one has an "abortion agenda." That's just a ridiculous anti-choice talking point based label. Feminists, and other people who respect the notion of inherent personal responsibility, have been forced to defend the right of choice because some people believe that women should not be able to control their own destinies. Feminists always believe in choice because choice is inherently about the right of a woman to be a fully functioning human being who can make her own choices about her own body.
Pro-Life Feminist
Thu Nov 15 2012 10:01
Everyone should know that you don't have to support the abortion agenda to be a feminist. To learn more about pro-life feminism, go to:

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