Repent America, a pro-live organization, was on campus this past Tuesday afternoon to raise awareness of their cause, something that polarized students againts them. A number of groups brought their own individual views to the protest, which took place outside of Main Hall. LGBTQA was represented, as well as Students For Life, and representatives from Planned Parenthood.
LGBTQA had a phone chain in effect, in preparation for the impending visit, and within a few minutes of them arriving, Project Lemonade was set up and in effect. Project Lemonade is a counter-protest, where people can pledge money per hour of Repent America staying on campus. An old-fashioned style lemonade stand stood off to the front of Main Hall, where LGBTQA was also selling pins and t-shirts. All of the money raised will go to tolerance education on and around campus.
The members had spread themselves all across the Academic Quad, with groups forming out front of Main Hall and Recitation Hall. Outside of Recitation, Repent America member Mark Diener was talking to a small group of students, including second-year LGBTQA member Kait Whitman.
“The greatest source of joy is a child,” started Diener. “To tell a five or six-year-old that they might have two daddies is wrong.”
Whitman interjected that spreading hate is what is really wrong, “It’s weird because we work so hard to teach equality and tolerance, but they just take the bible verbatim. This is what they really believe.”
Dave McMahon, a third-year student is the president of LGBTQA, and took note of how much Repent America brings the campus together.
“The students really support us,” McMahon said. “All the allies come out to show support and it’s just really good.”
Also present were the members of Students for Life, who were there to make sure that they weren’t going to be seen as a similar group to Repent America.
“While we respect the views of Repent America regarding the rights of the unborn, we want West Chester students to know in no way do we support the means by which they choose to spread the message,” said Sean McElwee, a third-year student who is also the vice-president of Students for Life. “We respect all living people, both born and unborn, and no one should be subjected to Repent America.”
President of Students for Life, Mary Elizabeth Metzo, a third-year student added, “We are a peaceful voice in the pro-life movement. We want to defend the unborn while still respecting students. Of course we appreciate them trying to spread pro-life, but we don’t like how they approach it.”
This sentiment was seen across the quad, written on signs as “I’m pro-life, and I still don’t agree with you,” or “Christian, Pro-Life, Anti-Repent America.”
Hilary Scholz, a third-year student asks students to not associate being pro-life with just Repent America.
“They’re too extreme,” said Scholz. “Not all pro-lifers are crazy, we are respectful people.”
Blair Berger is a fourth-year student who works at Planned Parenthood and who has created a program called Space to be Proud, Open and Together (SPOT), which is for anyone between the ages of 14-21 who just need someone to talk to.
“The unity from this protest is something WCU never sees. This is a different sort of power,” Berger said.” We have people singing Disney music to draw attention away from the preaching.”
Police were in the Quad to ensure that nothing got out of hand, but for the students of WCU, Repent America is nothing new, and most students know the proper way to respond, which this year seemed to be keep them talking so Project Lemonade can raise more money, and have a Disney and Broadway music sing-a-long to keep morale up.
Jenn Rothstein is a second-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at JR649299@wcupa.edu.