SMU Women’s Interest Network plants counter-display in response to Mustangs for Life ‘Memorial of Innocents’
By Emily Faerber
Last Monday, April 17, Mustangs for Life set up an “art display” of over 2,000 crosses on the Dallas Hall lawn as a “memorial of innocents.” Each cross symbolized a “life lost to abortion.”
According to their website, Mustangs for Life is a non-religious affiliated student organization that “honors the dignity of every human life by being a positive source of education, love and service to inspire a culture of life on SMU’s campus.”
Mustangs for Life President, Camille McCarty, said the purpose of the display was to raise awareness.
“We want to make people realize the gravity of their actions,” said McCarty, adding, “these are individual people we are killing and they cannot be ignored.”
And they certainty were not ignored.
The “memorial of innocents” display sparked a strong response by various students on campus, though it wasn’t the kind of response Mustang for Life members were hoping for.
Individual students soon turned to social media to share their feelings of opposition toward the memorial.
SMU student, Carson Wright, posted a video on Facebook in which he states, “The anti-choice display on SMU’s Dallas Hall lawn is severely misguided.”
The video has since been shared 879 times and viewed more than 119,000 times. It also prompted the SMU Women’s Interest Network (WIN) to plan a counter display.
WIN is a collection of SMU students, faculty and supportive community members who work to “further gender equality through programming and activism,” according to their website.
On Tuesday, April 18, WIN president, Adé Guobadia, also turned to social media, posting a status on Facebook that read, “the ‘memorial of innocents’ display is insensitive, triggering and directly contributing to a misogynistic culture that shames women for making their own reproductive choices.”
The post went on to encourage anyone who was interested in planning a counter demonstration to attend that nights WIN meeting.
On April 25, 20 students covered Dallas Hall lawn with three heart displays on three sections of grass. Each heart was comprised of a paper heart glued to a stake and carried a different message. Some linked QR codes donating to charities like the National Network of Abortion Funds while others listed facts about abortion and women’s rights.
“We wanted to do something that was as visually striking as it was informative,” Guobadia said. “We chose hearts to go along with the name of the counter protest and bring an inviting feeling instead of a morbid one to Dallas Hall Lawn.”
One heart read “the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree that restricting women’s access to abortion is unjustified and jeopardizing women’s health.”
Guobadia said the reaction was overall positive.
“There were lots of people who told us they supported our cause and we even had some pro-life people tell us the hearts were a welcome change,” she said. “I loved that we got so much support from female students. That was definitely the most rewarding part for me.”
The counter display represents women and their reproductive rights. There has been no response from any student or Mustang for Life member at this time; however, Guobadia said most of the members are open to a dialogue about the subject.
“Throughout all of this I’ve found that their leadership is very open to dialogue despite our difference in views and values which I respect,” she said.