Biola University, Abortion Photos & Civic Disobedience

Biola_bellsA Facebook friend posted a story from Jill Stanek about Biola University not allowing a senior nursing student, Diana Jimenez, to display graphic photos showing the effects of abortion on its unborn victims.  She went ahead and did it anyway and was then disciplined.

Here is an excerpt of her story as told by Jill:

“I was pro-life but had no idea what an abortion looked like,” Diana told me today by phone. “Then I actually saw a video of an abortion, and my heart broke in pieces.”

A senior nursing student at Biola, a Christian university in La Mirada,California, Diana (pictured right) promptly launched a pro-life group and invited Gregg Cunningham, executive director of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, to speak. After a great deal of energy was expended to publicize, only four students showed up.

Diana was compelled to attempt greater outreach, and the clock was ticking, with graduation just around the corner.

“I felt the need to expose the truth at the center of campus,” explained Diana. “The more I learned, the more I knew pictures were the most effective means. Pictures move beyond ways that words can express.”

Diana received permission to host a table with resources about abortion. On May 8 she, with a few representatives from CBR and two fellow students, set up her table after chapel let out, also displaying graphic signs of abortion.

In all, 1,500 students – some hostile – saw the signs before school administrators shut the group down.

They were told that they didn’t receive permission to display the signs.  She then tried to receive permission from the Biola administration to display the signs and was turned down by Associate Dean of Students Matthew Hooper.  On May 17th she decided to display the pictures on campus without permission and was confronted by John Ojeisekhoba, the head of Biola’s Campus Safety Department.  Ojeisekhoba threatened to kick Jimenez off campus which he said would prevent her from graduating.

She took video of the encounter which was included in a video made by Cunningham of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.  He included excerpts of a message given by Biola President Barry Corey who is quoted encourage students to stand for their convictions, “Courage is the fruit of conviction.  The two must remain inseparable.”

Here is the video:

 

Jimenez reports that the Director of Biola’s Nursing Department, Dr. Susan Elliott, wrote a letter barring all nursing faculty from providing a letter of reference for Jimenez.

Biola responded:

Biola University is aware of a recent video posted online showing a student attempting to display inappropriate, graphic images on campus.

Biola abhors the destruction of innocent life through the brutal practice of abortion on demand, and we support student efforts to raise awareness and advocate for biblical convictions. However, there are numerous ways to go about activism on this issue, especially on our pro-life campus. The public displaying of very graphic, disturbing images — for whatever purpose, even one so in line with Biola’s heart — is not an appropriate venue of student expression on our campus.

At issue in this situation is not Biola’s commitment to biblical fidelity and the pro-life cause, which we steadfastly uphold. Biola has always been and will always be committed to supporting the pro-life movement and accommodating campus dialogue on the subject, and this has been communicated to students. (For more information, please read this overview of some of the ways in which the university advocates for the sanctity of life.)

This issue is about the appropriate free expression of views on these issues on our campus. As outlined in our Student Handbook, all student assemblies and forums are subject to approval by the office of the Dean of Students. In this instance, the student sought approval to display graphic imagery on campus and she was denied. Student Development communicated clearly with the student on the matter, explaining that the photos were not allowed because they would be disruptive to campus activity. Student Development expressed to her that she would be free to share information on this issue on campus through other methods (a table with handouts, a panel discussion, etc.). Even after multiple discussions with Student Development personnel, the student continued to disregard these discussions, chose to violate peaceful assembly policies, baited our Campus Safety officers, filmed when asked to stop, and continued her attempt to display these images on campus. Because she violated our policies and ignored our concerns, Campus Safety intervened. It is unfortunate that the situation has been misrepresented.

We are continually in prayer for our community: faculty, staff and students who care deeply for the needs of our society and who seek earnestly, with respect and integrity, to serve our Lord Jesus with conviction and courage. Thank you for your continued understanding and prayer on this matter.

I don’t know if we’re getting the full picture.  I’m not sure why Biola feels it is necessary to shield college students – young adults – from the horror of abortion, especially since they claim to be pro-life.  I’m also not sure if Jimenez should have disobeyed an administration who does have the right to bar certain activities.  It is private property as they are a private school.  Are there other ways she could have approached this issue?  It seems to me that the head of campus security could have handled the situation differently, and the director of the nursing department’s action, if true, is way, way out-of-line.  If Jimenez was a good student, she deserves references from the school’s faculty as a result.  She obviously had the credits and grades necessary to graduate; they didn’t mind taking her tuition money so they should provide the references.

It seems to be this should have been handled much differently on all sides.

What say you?

Photo credit: “The Biola Bells” taken by Brendon Connelly via Flickr (CC-By-SA 2.0)

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Comments

  1. Scott Bailey says

    Sometimes civil disobedience isn’t so civil. Jiminez clearly violated the college’s directive on the issue. As for the hostility, I can appreciate that. Although I’m pro life, I don’t want to be confronted with graphic pictures of abortion while out in public. I’ve seen some already and those are images I’d rather not have imprinted in my memory. I can advocate for life without having seen them in full color on a large poster. Clearly, Jiminez’ efforts weren’t very compelling for some reason. Four people show up for a speaker and students (who may well have been staunchly pro-life already) react negatively. As your last paragraph suggests, the situation could have been handled differently by all involved. But, if you are going to ignore the rules, you must be prepared to suffer the consequences.

    • Jim says

      Yeah, I know what you mean Scott. I’d rather have the garbage man stumble upon dead babies in dumpsters near an abortion clinic too. As long as they throw out the garbage where I won’t see it.

      Get real man. People eat hamburgers but can’t stand to see animals killed. Here we have the phenomenon in reverse. Evil acts that happen thousands of times a day in our own communities must be systematically hidden so we don’t have to feel uncomfortable. It’s pathetic.

    • Jim says

      BTW, I’m on the Biola campus every day and a former grad student there. It isn’t clear to me at all that the “staunchly pro-life already” crowd necessarily “react negatively”. That is what you’re supposed to believe, but I think you’d be surprised at the depth of support of those who’ve really thought about it. The leader of the anti-abortion group and his wife that did the student’s video spoke to a class I was in about 7 years ago, and I can assure you he’s an entirely reasonable man. After he’d spoken and left I was amazed that he wasn’t anything like I’d heard, and I’d say about 95% of the class (after he’d left) of grad students said abortion photos were an entirely legitimate form of communication. Yes that’s right. Only a few dissenters in a full class.

      Look, the anti-abortion group using the photos knows what they’re about more so apparently than Biola. These people are abolitionists of their day. They know it full well because I’ve heard them say it. Would that Biola did too. Abolitionists were hated in their day. But they were necessary. Biola should be tolerant of the more extreme elements of the movement. This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened. But we always we see defensiveness and self-righteousness in their response. This issue is radioactive for a reason. But the bureaucratic response is to try to eliminate the problem, but you can’t. Craft an honst response, give the girl her penalties with disinterest, and stop being self-righteous and defensive as if someone has knocked you off the moral high ground on the issue. Isn’t it ironic that this group protests almost daily on state college campuses with these photos, but you can’t do it on Christian college campuses? Curious, no?

      There is an awful lot of self-righteousness and indignation in Biola’s response. It isn’t surprising, since they want to have the pro-life moral high ground. Doesn’t everyone? But they should just accept the fact that some think they’re squishy on the matter when it comes to any action. The problem is that Christian universities such as that promote themselves as a quasi-Church to the donors and such, and then as merely a university that seems more advantageous. This ambivalence along with Biola’s strong desire to say that nothing has changed from their Fundamentalist roots is really at the heart of the problem. Maybe more has changed than they want to admit. The video exploited this equivocation at the heart of the Biola mission, and that equivocation is exploited by Biola itself depending on the audience at the time.

  2. Christian says

    Unfortunately the student did not honor the campus leadership’s directive. And unfortunately the response seem to be overly heavy handed in return. However, the administration’s response is not a surprise as it is relatively consistent with the feel we have had while visiting Biola on numerous occasions. But note that this is from an OUTSIDER’s perspective and not insider. Nonetheless, I myself would not condone the student’s actions as this is a pro-life university and they are not a hostile environment. There are better ways to approach this. But yes, the administration’s response as reported definitely feels heavy handed where rules reign supreme.

    • Christian says

      One more note. At the end of the day, I do feel that the student was NOT being disciplined for being pro life or desire to support the unborn. They obviously supported her pro-life position. However, they were concerned that some of the garish photos may not be appropriate for a public place. This seem to be a judgment call that is appropriately placed in the hand of the leadership. So the student is being disciplined for disregarding the policies they had laid down, not the fact that she is being pro life. I hope that we are clear on what is at issue here – meaning Biola is NOT anti pro-life.
      Of course, Biola may do well to have a softer tone. Out of the heart the mouth speaks…

  3. James says

    The school is now trying to say all the right things. It is obvious the young lady felt the school was not doing a good enough job enlightening it’s students on the horror of abortion. The school is certainly within it’s rights to ban her display but I feel for a good cause some civil disobedience is sometimes required of us. Too many students today are being led like sheep with a real dearth of critical thinking.

  4. Grace says

    I love my university, but as a student of Biola University it is incredibly upsetting to see the toll this issue is taking on our faculty, staff and students.

    I was there the day these images were displayed and I watched as people gleamed them in horror. These graphic images were thrust into the faces of students, parents, even children without warning. My university takes a strong Pro-life stance on abortion. I myself have been to many seminars, heard lectures and been offered additional information on the issue. Biola University DOES NOT condone the horror that is abortion, however they do have rules. Rules that are in place for a reason, and although they may not have been understood in this instance, they were important.

    Biola is home to many students, some of whom have had abortions their-selves. I have a friend who confided in me just last year that she had aborted her child, and as horrified as I was, my heart broke for my friend. I prayed for her and loved her, I did not shove images of aborted children in her face. If that was the desired effect, to distastefully shame people for their sin, bravo. However if advocating for the sanctity of life was the goal there are much better ways to do this: handouts, forums, initiating a campus debate, all of which were optioned to the student who chose to share these images with us.

    In regards to whose eyes we are shielding from the horror of these images, our campus is not home to just young adult, 18 and over students. Biola’s campus is home to small children whose eyes should be protected for these gruesome images unless condoned by their parents. It is a parents job to educate their child on these matters. Just as many parents would not want things like murder or sex taught to their kindergardeners by a third party, parents also have the right to educate their children in the manner they choose on the matter of abortion. Yet these images were displayed openly on a day when countless grade-school children were visiting campus, not counting the various children who come to campus with their parents on a regular basis.

    Biola has these rules in place for a reason.

    We are called to love the sinner even though we hate the sin, but are we really doing that by throwing their sin in their face while they may be grieving it.

    We are to protect the innocent eyes of our children but we cannot do that when images are shown to them without our permission.

    I love my Pro-Life Christian University, it is a tragedy what has happened here. However, deliberately disobeying the rules of the university when other options were offered through which the message could have been shared, calls for consequences.

    I pray with a heavy heart that Biola stands strong in their faith and conviction amidst this attack, I pray for encouragement for all the members of faculty and staff who are effected by this. May God continue to bless this school as we face persecution, and may Biola continue to stand its ground on its Pro-Life conviction and not be hindered by those who wish her harm.

    I love my university.

      • Jim says

        … some of whom have had abortions their-selves … I prayed for her and loved her, I did not shove images of aborted children in her face.

        This is the emotional argument always thrown out by people who disagree with abortion images. And it is a logically identical to the pro-abortion emotional argument. “Think of the mother and how she feels”. Well I’m sorry Grace, but you’re claiming that the best and kindest way to deal with the problem is to ignore the way children are killed. This is kindness? To whom?

        Grace, there are many who aborted their babies that are in full agreement with showing these pictures and think it a kindness to warn mothers of the sadness awaiting them later if they do it. So your emotional argument is specious and not in the least helpful. Christianity has solutions to shame, does it not? Do you think they do not work anymore?

  5. Biola Bob "81 says

    As a Biola graduate myself, I was appalled the way Biola treated this young lady. Yes, she did go ahead anyway after she was told she could not, but the way it was handled was way out of line and let me ask, where is the grace here?? The Biola administration said that graphic pictures is not really acceptable for their students to see while at the same time hundreds of Biola students go to watch movies that show the same or more graphic imagery that was depicted on this poster by Ms, Jimenez. So let me ask, is some graphic imagery more acceptable than others. Our military veterans have seen just as worse or more on some battlefields they have been apart of. As a strong supporter of Israel and against anti-Semitism, would I have been treated the same if I were to display graphic photos or posters of the Holocaust on campus? Let me ask this, if our federal government came out and said you Christians cannot show any graphic photos any more of abortions or we will severely discipline or imprison you, would we just say OK, or would we stand up and defend what we believe in or against?

  6. Tim says

    The video is a masterful piece of propaganda. The student was within her rights to express her views but the school is also within its rights to regulate the life of the community.

  7. Krydye Designco says

    I am appalled by the way the 4 students showed their support of the cause at a “Christian” University. 4 people seriously? Its funny how many of you are so eager to defend Diana now. Its funny how you can listen to your president tell you all about “conviction” and “courage” and do nothing to support her cause for unborn children. Until now. Now that its trendy. What a joke. I support Diana’s decision to listen to God and not to man.This is an example of what the “church” has come to. Prideful Authoritative figure-heads ruin the freedom to experience God. Where exactly is Biola’s Grace (if they are indeed acting as Christ’s hands and feet) Where is the teaching moment? I am 100% sure every time I have done the wrong thing out of a pure heart my God never ever heaped condemnation on me. Instead he counted my faith as righteousness. Shame on you Biola.