The "Biola bells" at Biola University , a Christian university located in Southern California.
The “Biola bells” at Biola University , a Christian university located in Southern California.

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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