I am ashamed to be an IU alumnus

By Scott Tibbs
web posted April 24, 2000

The first week of April, a group known as the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform wanted to bring the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) to Indiana University. GAP sets up large displays equating abortion to slavery and the Nazi Holocaust. Whether that connection is a viable one is the subject of another debate, but what cannot be debated is that since IU is a public university, GAP had a clear First Amendment right to set up on the IU campus.

The university administration, led by Dean of Students Richard McKaig and Assistant Dean of Students Jim Gibson, did everything they could to make life hard for GAP. They told GAP they had to set up in the "designated free speech area", Dunn Meadow. GAP wanted to set up in another area, in the field between the class buildings Woodburn Hall and Ballentine Hall, where traffic is many times heavier than traffic by Dunn Meadow. Gibson, backed up by McKaig, said that Dunn Meadow was where all First Amendment activity was supposed to take place, and GAP would be asked to leave if they set up somewhere else.

Problem is, Dean Gibson is a liar.

Dozens of other large protests and rallies have been held in that area, most notably when street preachers set up and draw a crowd. Other protests have happened there as well.

OUT, Indiana University's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Student Union, has set up there many times, both with "kiss-ins" and a mock gay wedding in 1996.

I myself was allowed to set up directly across the street from where GAP wanted to be when I organized a rally to defend animal research in the Psychology Department as Vice-President and Co-Founder of the Indiana University Student Alliance for Responsible Research (SARR). Dean Gibson went out of his way to make sure that SARR was able to set up in that area, and made sure we had all the proper permits to hold a rally supportive of animal research that drew between fifty and seventy-five people.

Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) also set up in that area, with their Great American Smoke-On in 1996 to protest the prohibition of smoking in university buildings.

The Indiana Public Interest Research Group (InPIRG) is often out there asking for donations.

Both the College Democrats and College Republicans have registered voters in that area.

The Citizens Alliance for the Legalization of Marijuana often has tables set up exactly where GAP wanted to be.

This barely scratches the surface of all the protests and rallies that have occurred in the Woodburn Area. Why were all these organizations allowed to set up, but the Genocide Awareness Project was to be sent to an area with much lower traffic density?

The reason is simple. It is pure, unadulterated content-based censorship. True, there has been violence where GAP has set up at other universities, but only when pro-abortion extremists have physically destroyed the GAP displays. GAP itself had not been the violent ones at other universities.

While IU specially allows Dunn Meadow to be used for free speech, it's policy on speech outside of Dunn Meadow is that it does not have a policy, and anyone can pretty much set up anywhere, provided they do not interfere with the operation of the university.

Except when it comes to GAP. The Center for Bio-Ethical reform is planning to file a lawsuit against the university for their decision that the First Amendment ends at the Sample Gates. IU's argument is so weak that it will easily collapse under its own weight, provided GAP does not get stuck with a corrupt judge.

It is because of this and many other blatant violations of the First Amendment perpetrated by Indiana University that I can no longer support my alma mater. In fact, I am deeply ashamed to be an IU alumnus. If you see me around Bloomington the next time Purdue plays here, I will be the one wearing the Boilermaker t-shirt.

Scott Tibbs is a 1998 graduate of Indiana University.

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