‘I wasn’t asked once by any of the officers if I was doing alright’
Students at Princeton were subjected last week to hate speech while passing by a group of “self-identifying Christian protestors” on a street adjacent to campus.
According to The Daily Princetonian, aside from spewing “sexist, homophobic, antisemitic, Islamophobic, anti-Catholic, and otherwise offensive remarks,” the alleged Christians also carried signs reading “feminists are whores” and “women belong in the kitchen.”
Instead of ignoring these obvious creeps, some students chose to complain about how they weren’t “protected” by the university.
Muslim student Derin Arat said that if she has to pass by the protesters en route to class, Princeton has a “duty to protect [her] well-being and provide [her] security.”
Arat added that Princeton officials “didn’t do anything about [the protest] other than just passively watching it” and that she “wasn’t asked once by any of the officers or staff members present if [she] was doing alright” after passing the demonstrators.
According to a school spokesman, it’s not entirely accurate that Princeton did nothing. University free speech facilitators present at the protest at one point got the “Christians” to “relocate to a public sidewalk” and to cease the use of “amplified sound.”
Still, Muslim Students Association President Aisha Chebbi said when groups like the “Christians” appear at or near the university, it is an “important responsibility of our campus community to address these harms and to find ways to provide healing for those affected.”
Some students chose to engage with the protestors or counter their speech. Those who engaged took a variety of tactics: challenging the protesters’ rhetoric directly, taking photos in front of the signs, or yelling out to the crowd. Several students who walked by the crowd commented that they thought the protestors were “joking” or laughed at the extremist protestors’ statements.
By 1:45 p.m., some of the extremists had left and three men, each holding a sign, remained. Two students kissed in front of the protestors, eliciting cheers from the gathered crowd. Another student, Joey Nartker ’25, sat shirtless in the rain in front of the protestors silently for several minutes. He stated that the intention of this act was to draw attention away from other students who were the subject of verbal attacks by the demonstrators on Tuesday.
Some students took on the demonstrators by reading Bible verses which they said portray the real message of Christianity and the Holy Book.
While blasting the protesters’ overall message and tactics, Princeton Dean of Religious Life Reverend Alison Boden recognized the First Amendment aspect of the event.
“My personal opinion is that these visitors have a right to stand in public spaces (this group is always very strategic in where they choose to act) and to speak their minds, even if their opinions are offensive,” Boden said.
IMAGE: Ashley Marinaccio / Flickr.com