November 12, 2012
Westmont College Tussles With Pro-Life Student Over 'Horrific' Photos (Updated)
Display of aborted fetuses sparks debate.
When Westmont College student Seth Gruber began displaying signs with graphic images of aborted fetuses on campus, most students walked by without saying anything. But then, the Christian college tried to shut him down, according to a World magazine report.
The incident occurred after Gruber's request to sponsor the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform’s (CBR) Genocide Awareness Project on campus was denied three years in a row. However, Westmont director of communications Nancy Phinney says Westmont has not entirely denied Gruber's requests.
"They are welcome to put the display up in an appropriate campus building, but (Gruber) is not interested in doing that," Phinney said Wednesday, reiterating that Westmont's position has not changed since Gruber first requested to bring the genocide display to campus.
"We have not denied the requests, but we have simply said it would not work in this particular area," she said. "That hasn't changed."
Phinney also says Westmont has neither shut down Gruber's demonstration nor asked him to leave, though he has spoken with student life officials on several occasions.
Gruber's ongoing protest has sparked debate about the graphic nature of the controversial pro-life group's campaign. Yet, Gruber says he has won one of the more important battles thus far: Westmont has not forced him to stop protesting.
"Westmont did not make me leave or require that I put away the images," Gruber wrote in a blog post. "They asked me to stop, but after I refused, it was clear that they really weren't sure what to do. ... The ball is in my court and I intend to score."
According to World, Westmont explained that it "doesn't disagree" with Gruber's pro-life stance, but does disagree with his method of communication.
Phinney said Westmont does not take positions on issues—including abortion—apart from the views expressed in its Faith Statement and Community Life Statement. However, some Westmont students have spoken out against Gruber, including a staff editorial by the student newspaper, The Horizon, which "condemns Gruber’s decision to use graphic photos in a misguided attempt to convince students to adopt his own viewpoint."
Gruber previously interned for CBR and collaborated with the organization on his current protest.
Editor's note: This post has been edited to 1) correct Westmont's position on pro-life issues (the school is neutral), and 2) clarify that CT's previous reports are unrelated to the groups mentioned in the World article.