More Than 400 Student Newspaper Copies Damaged at Drake Due to Pregnancy Center Ad

Late last week, unknown assailants swiped more than 400 copies of The Times-Delphic from their newsstands around Drake University, “drenched them in water” and dumped them in a pile outside the student paper’s newsroom. One copy atop the “stack of damaged issues” was opened to page 11, a below-the-fold advertisement for a local pregnancy center “prominently circled in black marker.”

An act of protest, perhaps?

If the circled ad is a clue, the not-so-subtle student press vandalism is a reaction to what a group of Drake critics claim is a not-so-female-friendly center.

A portion of a recent Times-Delphic letter to the editor, written by a Drake English and women’s and gender studies professor: “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. While their ads lead women to believe they offer free services, they do not offer comprehensive reproductive information. I find it deeply troubling and problematic that the Times-Delphic is taking advertising money from these deceptive and harmful organizations.”

The paper offered an editorial response, confirming, “The Times-Delphic holds a content-neutral stance on print ads and welcomes the publication of all advertisements, unless the ad promotes illegal activity. … If you have questions, ask them. If you are unhappy with the content published, then submit a letter to the editor. An open dialogue is necessary to ensure the Times-Delphic produces robust content, open to interpretation and welcome to continued conversation.”

Yet, editors’ requests for further dialogue weren’t heeded — and instead papers were damaged.

In a campus-wide email, Drake University president David Maxwell declared, “This act goes beyond mere vandalism — it is an attempt to curtail First Amendment rights regarding free speech, and is thus antithetical to our core values as the Drake University community. … 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. 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.”

Well put.

Times-Delphic managing editor Austin Cannon tells the SPLC the paper hopes the pregnancy center continues to advertise in future issues — something a university source tells me the center has done now and again for roughly two years.

In the meantime, as Times-Delphic editor-in-chief Courtney Fishman has confirmed to The Des Moines Register, the paper is in the hole around $200 for the damaged copies.

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