MAYNOOTH UNIVERSITY BAN ALL EXTREME & INAPPROPRIATE DEMONSTRATIONS WITH NO OPT-OUT OPTION
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A couple of Maynooth University Pro-Choice Committee members and other students were protesting against an anti-choice demonstration by the Irish Centre for Bio-ethical Reform outside the MU library last Wednesday, 14th March 2018.
The people who were present on that day from the ICBR were not MU students. We were there as Maynooth University students, to stand with other Maynooth University students against something that we feel is wrong. The reason why this is important actually has nothing to do with being pro-choice or pro-life, or what way you are going to be voting in the referendum. We were standing there with other students who were not present. We were standing there with every Maynooth University student who has had a miscarriage, every MU student who has had an abortion, every MU student who has ever gone through those traumas, or anything like them.
When we come to college, we are doing so to learn and to get our various degrees. We mix with lots of different people who have each had their own life experiences; some that will be similar to ours, some that we will never be able to understand and definitely some that will be completely different to our own. We come across people from other religious faiths, political opinions, medical conditions, mental health difficulties, traumas, ethnicities, and world views. When we come into the social world in any kind of way, that is something that we have to accept.
On this campus, therefore, we also have to accept that there are students around us who have been through the difficult experiences of miscarriage, rape and abortion. If someone has gone through difficult and traumatic incidents of any of these things, and they are forced to see the images that the ICBR had out (on their roughly 8ft tall and 4ft wide posters), they could be extremely upset by them. By this I mean if they have any form of PTSD from these incidents, this could start off a potentially harmful spiral for them.
The issue is not freedom of speech or being “insulted” by the images being there. The issue was that we know that there are students on campus who have gone through these things, who have experienced these deeply upsetting and difficult situations, who have paid their fees to attend this university and get an education. They have NOT signed up for an attack on their past experiences in such a blatant and offensive manner, with no way of avoiding such things. Sure, there were two warnings down the road to let people know there was graphic imagery, but that does not stop the fact that these posters were unavoidable if you were walking from one campus to the other. There was no “opt-out” button. No “age-restriction” curtain in front in case someone did not want to see this. No way of un-seeing what had already been seen. No “over 18s only”, “may contain subjects unsuitable for children or those affected by rape, abortion, miscarriage”, no off-switch, no emergency exit, no content warnings.
We fundamentally disagree with images of that sort being present on or near our campus, where our fellow students, our friends and our lecturers have the right to study and work without hindrances to their work and study.
And we, MAYNOOTH STUDENTS, call upon MAYNOOTH UNIVERSITY to BAN ALL EXTREME, INAPPROPRIATE AND OBSCENE DEMONSTRATIONS SUCH AS PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF “GRAPHIC AND UPSETTING ABORTION IMAGERY” WITH NO OPT-OUT OPTION FOR STUDENTS OR OTHERS WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THE MENTAL HARM IT MAY CAUSE.
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