My “career” as a pro-life activist, as well as a university student, began under some rather unusual circumstances. A shadow of sorts had been cast over my first year of post-secondary school, as it marked the anniversary of this infamous incident. I was connected to the pro-life community at my institution, followed by what would become my favourite activist organization, through the arrests. Since then, the events of Oct. 4, 2010, seem to follow me everywhere, even though the “spotlight” of that day was not mine. I wonder if – in fact, I suspect – that day will follow and influence me beyond my college years.
Therefore, it was with a heavy heart that I watched Jill Stanek’s coverage of a recent controversy at Biola University in California. Diana Jimenez, a pro-life nursing student in her final year, watched a graphic video of an abortion procedure. The video inspired her to start a pro-life club on her campus, and Gregg Cunningham of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform was invited to speak. (Do you see a pattern here?)
An information table was also set up, containing the controversial visuals CBR and its affiliates are known for. This display was shut down because Diana apparently did not seek permission. Diana maintains that proper procedures were followed. School authorities – Christian and supposedly pro-life ones, no less – wouldn’t even let her stand with a CBR sign for one hour. Instead, they told Diana to keep her project confined to a single room, so that passersby could “choose” to see the truth about abortion. (Boy, that sounds familiar.) When she complied, four students saw her signs.
Diana then decided to take matters into her own hands. She displayed a graphic picture on campus, one week before she was due to graduate. This decision to upset the status quo did not bode well for her. The school security chief threatened Diana with arrest and denial of her graduation. Biola’s associate dean of students sent a warning that she would be banned from commencement, and the entire campus. The dean of nursing advised the faculty not to write reference letters for Diana’s employment.
Last week, however, things began to look up for this young woman. The university president released a letter of apology. He is working to ensure all facets of the school curriculum are tied to pro-life issues. A group of influential pro-life leaders, among them Scott Klusendorf, is creating a program that will eventually lead to a minor in Applied Bioethics. Any interested Christian university will be welcome to use the program, and I hope Biola is one of them. Finally, the troublesome nursing dean has reportedly retired.
As with many other bold pro-lifers – Monica Miller, anyone? – I am not sure whether to call Diana Jimenez brave or foolish. My graphic-promoting friends and I have been called both. I have asked myself many times whether Diana’s example inspires me or scares me. For now, I will look to her for the former, while of course obeying all reasonable school policy. There will be no one-room displays while I’m around, and who knows where the future will take me after my undergrad years?