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Pro-choice, anti-abortion displays vandalized at Hamilton campus

The pro-choice display on Hamilton's campus.
The pro-choice display on Hamilton's campus.

Last Tuesday, a pro-choice display at Miami's Hamilton regional campus was stolen from campus grounds. This theft followed an act of vandalism from the previous week -- an anti-abortion display of crosses was destroyed by two students, both of whom were captured on film.

Both groups -- Miami University Hamilton Students for Life (MUHSFL) on the anti-abortion side and Students for Reproductive Justice on the pro-choice side -- condemned the destruction of property.

"Just as we wish our freedoms of speech and expression to be protected, we also wish the freedoms of all students to be respected -- regardless of content or viewpoint," reads a MUHSFL instagram post.

The former president of MUHSFL, Ellie Wittman, a sophomore, became the vice president of the Oxford Campus' Students for Life group after she transferred here. She said that "college campuses are a marketplace of ideas," and that resorting to vandalism and theft only broke down that freedom of expression.

Students for Reproductive Justice leader Amy Malott, a senior at the Hamilton campus who led the effort to set up the pro-choice display, agreed with Wittman. In the past she said, the two ideologically-opposed factions have been mostly respectful of one another.

"It's been a really respectful discourse," said Malott. "You know, we don't really talk to each other about it. It's just there, present on campus."

Wittman said that in the few years she belonged to MUHSFL, she never had direct issues with students for Reproductive Justice or Malott, but the annual anti-abortion cross display has been kicked down at least twice before.

The stolen display from the College Students for Reproductive Justice exhibit has not yet been recovered, but police were alerted to the theft.

Malott was forced to replace the Students for Reproductive Justice exhibit with her own resources and restore the original exhibit which was comprised of wire hangers

A report was sent to campus security, but unfortunately there were no cameras that faced the part of the quad that Malott's display was on.

A friend of Malott's told her that she saw a woman carrying around parts of the display shortly after it was stolen, but the friend ignored it.

"It was a miscommunication because she thought maybe I said to take to take it down," said Malott. "She didn't want to walk right up and go 'hey, what are you doing.'"

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Despite the acts of vandalism and theft Malott and Wittman remained hopeful that Miami University Hamilton Students for Life and College Students for Reproductive Justice can continue to coexist peacefully.