Hundreds of copies of Drake University’s student paper The Times-Delphic were recently destroyed, allegedly because it consistently ran an advertisement for a Christian crisis-pregnancy center in the Des Moines area.
Last Thursday, 431 copies of the weekly newspaper were drenched in water then dumped at the door of the student newspaper’s office. On top of the pile, one newspaper sat opened to the crisis-pregnancy center advertisement, which was circled in thick, black marker.
It’s unclear who destroyed the newspapers, which caused an estimated $200 in damage, and the case remains under investigation, the Des Moines Register reports.
But the newspaper staff has its suspicions about what prompted the wreckage.
“Recently, readers have reached out to The Times-Delphic staff, upset about the publication of this ad,” the editors stated, referencing the Agape Pregnancy Center advertisement. “A letter to the editor, as well as a response from the editor-in-chief explaining advertisement policy, was published in this week’s edition of The Times-Delphic.”
That letter, written by associate professor of women’s and gender studies Beth Younger, stated in part that “crisis pregnancy centers are largely fronts for anti-choice, anti-abortion organizations and they are known for providing misleading information to young women who may be facing an unplanned pregnancy.”
“I find it deeply troubling and problematic that The Times-Delphic is taking advertising money from these deceptive and harmful organizations,” Younger continued. “At the very least, if you must take its money, publish a disclaimer next to the ad so young women won’t be fooled into thinking they can get free health care, when what they get is propaganda and harmful lies.”
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The student journalists, for their part, defended their right to publish the ad, noting the staff embraces “free and open expression in all four sections of the publication, including advertisements. We feel this principle contributes to a marketplace of ideas in order to educate students and readers about certain issues.”
The advertisement for Agape Pregnancy Center has run in The Times-Delphic for a while now, but Planned Parenthood has also runs ads in the paper before, Courtney Fishman, editor-in-chief of the newspaper, said in an email to The College Fix.
In response to the vandalism, the president of the private university, David Maxwell, sent a campus-wide email condemning the act, saying it went “beyond mere vandalism—it is an attempt to curtail First Amendment rights regarding free speech,” reports College Media Matters.
“Those who have concerns about the agency that paid for the advertisement have every right to express those concerns and to catalyze debate, as Prof. Younger has done in her letter to the editor,” he added. “But we should all be outraged by an act that not only entails the destruction of others’ property, but is intended to communicate a message in a manner that violates our sense of who we are and what we stand for as a university.”
The ad had simply stated: “Think you might be pregnant?” in big, bold letters followed up by “Free pregnancy tests” and “Free ultrasounds” reports LifeNews.com.
The Delphic-Times has stated it will to continue to run Agape Center advertisements regardless of vandalism threats.
College Fix reporter Kasey Marie Shores is a student at the University of Arizona.
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