(Photo: The Christian Post)
Editor's note: Warning, video contains graphic images.
Biola University, a private Christian university located in La Mirada, Calif., is standing by its decision to bar Diana Jimenez, a recent nursing graduate, from displaying a graphic anti-abortion sign in a prominent location on campus where it would be visible to students, faculty and visitors during finals week, despite the institution's pro-life stance.
In a recently posted video on YouTube, John Ojeisekhoba, chief of campus safety, asked Jimenez if she understood the implications of her decision to display the anti-abortion sign. "If I kick you off campus, you cannot graduate," he said to Jimenez before asking if she wanted him to call the local sheriff to resolve the issue.
During the end of her final semester at Biola, Jimenez invited Gregg Cunningham, executive director of the pro-life Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, to speak on campus and was also allowed to display graphic images of aborted babies at a secluded location on campus where students would have to choose to see them. Subsequently, only four people showed up to her pro-life event.
In May, Jimenez received permission from the administration to host an information table that included pamphlets about abortion and was allowed to "display non-graphic imagery in public," Cunningham told The Christian Post in a statement. "She defied this ban [and displayed photos of aborted babies] because CBR's long experience on secular college campuses has taught us that many students must see abortion to realize that it is not merely the lesser of two evils."
Providing a statement on behalf of Biola University's Department of Student Development, Brenda Velasco, assistant director of public relations, told CP that the university does not prohibit pro-life signs from being displayed on campus, but added: "All displays of any kind go through an approval process bearing in mind location, audience and topic. Biola's policy does allow graphic images for specific purposes that can be accompanied by a forum and an educational discussion. We welcome those types of educational opportunities for students to engage and learn further about the topic at hand."
However, Velasco noted that "in this instance, the student sought approval to display graphic imagery on campus and she was denied."
She added that student development told Jimenez that the photos weren't allowed on the Christian campus because "they would be disruptive to campus activity."
"We try to provide effective parameters for displays keeping in mind guests we may have on campus that day, location and use of public space," Velasco explained.
"For example, the first day the request was denied there was a group of kindergarteners visiting campus. The location she chose would have intersected with that visiting group. She was given permission to display a table with pamphlets, brochures and pro-life information. She was also given the opportunity to lead a forum or discussion on the subject. We want to provide counselors on hand and experts on the topic at a pro-life event as that is our commitment to our students as we strive to provide a caring community."
Velasco also affirmed that Jimenez was never at risk of not obtaining her degree, even though Ojeisekhoba stated he could ban her from attending the commencement ceremony.
But according to Cunningham, Jimenez was "threatened with arrest and expulsion and the withholding of her degree because she publicly displayed abortion photos in a prominent location on campus on two occasions, the first without permission and the second after being denied permission."
Cunningham also asserts that Jimenez was adversely impacted by the actions of Dr. Susan Elliott, director of Biola's Nursing Department, after she "attempted to damage Jimenez's professional career by sabotaging her employment prospects."
He told CP, "Dr. Elliott circulated an internal letter prohibiting all nursing faculty members from providing Jimenez with letters of reference. Associate Dean Matthew Hooper told Jimenez that she was being punished because she 'rebelled against authority.' We believe she rebelled against the abuse of authority."
According to Cunningham, even though Biola had reversed Elliott's decision, "by then the damage had been done. The delay cost Jimenez competitive advantage in applying for jobs and Elliott's vendetta against Jimenez poisoned faculty attitudes toward her, significantly diminishing the quality and perhaps number of letters she could obtain."
In response, Velasco told CP that "the Department of Nursing faculty are allowed to write letters of recommendation for [Jimenez] at their own discretion and this was clearly communicated to all involved."
Even though Jimenez defied the administration, according to Cunningham, her actions were not in vain, because a Biola student said that she was on her way to a Planned Parenthood clinic to have an abortion when she saw the graphic image and instead decided to keep her baby.
Reminder: Video contains graphic images.