Western Kentucky University officials said they are investigating allegations that campus police refused to stop students from placing condoms on hundreds of crosses that had been set up as part of a massive student pro-life display.
As many as 4,000 crosses had been erected in the university’s old football stadium by Hilltoppers For Life, a student-led pro-life group. The students had applied for and had received permission from the university to create the display.
The group had assigned students to provide 24-hour surveillance over fears that pro-choice students might vandalize the display, said John Sohl, president of the pro-life group.
“They were putting condoms on every single cross in our display,” Sohl told Fox News. “She said she was doing it for an art project. She was desecrating the crosses for class credit.”
Sohl called campus police – but they refused to intervene – citing First Amendment concerns. The police told the pro-life students that they “couldn’t do anything because the condoms aren’t actually vandalization.”
And the alleged vandal told police she had been given permission by her art teacher to desecrate the display.
The university released a statement to Fox News saying they have launched an investigation into what happened.
“Free speech – all free speech – is valued by WKU administration,” the statement read. “Interference with the expression of free speech is not condoned and is not supported by WKU.”
The university confirmed that the pro-life group sought and received permission to display the crosses.
Sohl said it was disturbing that the student may have gotten class credit for the assignment.
“She was desecrating the cross,” he said. “They didn’t destroy our display, but to me – by putting a condom on a cross you may as well be destroying the cross.”
He said at least one university official called him and apologized for what happened.
“She said she didn’t know what the university’s official response was going to be but she told me she was disgusted,” he said. “I do think the university should pay much closer attention to its faculty. I can only imagine that an assignment like this – desecrating a cross?”
Kristan Hawkins, the executive director of Students for Life of America, told Fox News the university should not tolerate such acts of vandalism.
“Claiming vandalism as art is disingenuous and disturbing at best,” she said. “The desecration of the crosses at WKU is sacrilegious, offensive, and borders on a hate crime.”
Hawkins said other pro-life college students have also been victims of vandalism but what happened at Western Kentucky was especially concerning.
“It is not uncommon for students to face opposition of this nature but usually the campus police do help out and stop the vandalism rather than hide behind some ‘artistic expression’ excuse,” she said. “I find it unbelievable that the after the pro-life students contacted campus police they failed to do anything and allowed the desecration to continue, in direct violation of the rights of the pro-life student group.”
Below is video shot by the pro-life students as their display was being vandalized: