The Students for Life at Oklahoma State University hoped to spread a positive message last week by using sidewalk chalk to draw pro-life messages on the sidewalks of campus. On Sunday, March 27, they went out around 1 p.m., chalk in hand, ready to make art about the value of life and what it means to “love them both.” By that evening, every art piece had been scuffed up, unreadable. Defaced.
The next day, the chapter held their regularly scheduled members meeting and discussed what to do in response to being silenced. They decided to go back at it, louder, stronger, and prouder. On Wednesday, March 30, the group gathered at 10 p.m. to cover the campus in truth.
“I got to experience looking into the eyes of someone who doesn’t know me but hates me in a personal way. The most we could do in those cases was smile and be kind.”
Sarah Leger, the chapter’s current president, got involved with the club her freshman year, and will be graduating in May. Her response to the drawings being defaced was not one of anger, but sadness and disappointment.
“I was stunned that OSU’s students responded this way to our organization and art. All the messages we wrote were very peaceful, beautiful, and positive,” Leger said.
On their first walk on that Sunday afternoon, a handful of members gathered and drew 10 art pieces around OSU’s popular Library Lawn. On the Wednesday night that they gathered again, nearly triple the amount of people showed up, and Library Lawn was left decorated with over 90 pro-life messages. Many of them came because they were encouraged to stand up against those who disliked their messages.
Elizabeth Schneider, a club member and junior in microbiology/cell and molecular biology believes that it is important to continue speaking truth, even when you face opposition.
“I talked to a lot of people Thursday who were actively erasing the artwork we’d created the night before,” Schneider said. “The chalk itself is unimportant. Our goal is not just to draw on the sidewalk, but to plant seeds in people’s minds and hearts. In fact, the reason we re-chalked in the first place was not to fight back at whoever erased our first messages, but just to give our artwork a chance to be seen and give us all a chance to have conversations about it.”
On Thursday while walking the campus to talk with people taking issue with the artwork, Schneider encountered what many fear.
Leger was proud of her group for rallying together and not giving up.
“What was so surprising was that when we went out on Wednesday, more than 30 people showed up. And we saw the number of messages jump from 10 to over 90,” Leger said. The group left the campus early on Thursday morning, the Library Lawn covered in pro-life messages such as “you had value at conception,” “your life matters,” and “we are the pro-life generation.”
Knowing that the messages were bound to get scratched out again, Leger clarified that revenge was not the goal. The goal was to start conversations.
“Our reason for chalking and hopes for OSU is to start this dialogue with one another. To start a conversation. To ask the hard questions and process why we believe what we believe,” Leger said. “We know now that these messages may get scuffed out again, but that isn’t the point. Our point is for those who see these messages and talk about it, to want to learn more, and to become on fire for what is right.”