Oxford University condemns protesters who vandalized Christian pro-life society booth at Freshers’ Fair
Oxford University has condemned protesters who destroyed a pro-life society booth at a Freshers’ Fair.
University students last week tore up posters advertising the Oxford Students for Life Society and threw away pamphlets and booklets.
Christian groups have called for more on-campus support and protection for pro-life societies, claiming the actions of “cancel culture activists” were “disturbing.”
Oxford Students for Life is an association that advocates for abortion. They have condemned the protest as “harassment tactics.”
Oxford Students for Life is an association that advocates against abortion
Oxford Students for Life president Anna Fleischer says her members were intimidated at Freshers’ Fair
The president of the pro-life association, Anna Fleischer, said a young woman working at the stable felt “afraid, scared and nervous” after the incident.
“One of the people in the booth is a woman with ADHD and autism and she found it really distressing,” said Miss Fleischer.
“She told me she felt so scared and scared and nervous that she was even nervous to walk home because she was so intimidated.”
Anna, a second-year philosophy and theology student from London, said: ‘For the majority of the Freshers’ Fair, most of the people who interacted with us were very friendly and respectful.
‘On the second day, around noon, a small group of students tried to block the booth, I think it was about four and they tried to prevent people from seeing the booth.
“Then they left and came back with a black wheelie bin and started putting material in the bin.”
The pro-life society tweeted about their bad experience after the Fresher’s Fair
Miss Fleischer, 20, said other students took pamphlets and booklets about abortion and euthanasia that her group had displayed and tossed it in the trash.
The pro-life students then tried to put their materials in a safe place before the protesters reportedly got behind the booth and took down posters.
Miss Fleischer claims that young people in society were abused online after the incident, with trolls insulting their appearance, sending rude messages and even sending death threats.
The university has said it supports the right to freedom of expression and therefore condemns the actions of the protesters.
However, the Students’ Union insisted it was “unequivocally pro-choice and supports the right of all people to make their own decisions about their bodies.”
A spokesperson for the University of Oxford said: ‘The University supports the right of all our students and student groups to express their views on all beliefs within the law.
“We therefore condemn last week’s protest against the Oxford Students for Life booth at the Freshers’ Fair, which was an attempt to deny others the right to express themselves.
“We have a robust freedom of expression policy that states: ‘Within the limits set by law, any voice or opinion a member of our community deems relevant must be given an opportunity to be heard.’
President of the pro-life society, Anna Fleischer (pictured), said a young woman working at the stable felt “scared, scared and nervous.”
“We require that all events held on university grounds adhere to this policy.”
The news of the incident comes after protesters lobbied to disband another pro-life group at Exeter University.
A petition has been launched against the existence of Exeter Students for Life amid calls to cut funding for the group by the Exeter Students Guild.
Members of the group say they have also been victims of online trolling and death threats.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Center at Christian Concern, said: “A pro-life society has just as much right to freedom of association as any other society at a university. The treatment the University of Oxford pro-life group has received from cultural activists of the cancellation is deeply disturbing.
The anti-abortion group also shared their thoughts on the protest on Instagram
“We welcome the defense authorities at Oxford and Exeter University who have caved in to freedom of expression, but call on universities across the country to do more to protect pro-life societies on campus.
The Christian Legal Center stands ready to assist and defend every member of all pro-life campus associations. Their message is one of life and hope and should never be silenced in a free society.’
A spokesman for Oxford’s Students’ Union said: ‘We believe that no one should see their fundamental rights being questioned, and for that we apologise.
“We understand, and to some extent anticipate, the emotional reactions and frustrations surrounding the presence of an anti-abortion booth at the Freshers’ Fair. The stalls only represent their own vision and not necessarily that of the SU.’
They added that they had to abide by the university’s free speech rules and had no control over which sororities were registered with the university.
The spokesperson continued: ‘However, Oxford SU must stand with and for its students. As an organization, we want to learn from this to ensure that this policy does not overshadow our commitment to the mandate and well-being of students. ‘