To: The Nicholls State University Community
From: Stephen T. Hulbert, President
I am writing to let the University community know that representatives from Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas are scheduled to conduct a demonstration on campus from 11:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., April 18, 2005. The demonstration will take place on the cement area directly to the right of the entrance to the student union. This group is coming to campus to protest the establishment of a student group named the NSU Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA).
The University’s position is that students have the right to assemble and to establish student organizations without censorship relative to content or purpose. Therefore, student groups will be permitted to operate at Nicholls as long as their purpose and activities do not thwart the aims and purposes of the University or violate state or federal law.
Nicholls is a diverse community. This diversity is respected on a daily basis as we go about our academic and extracurricular endeavors.
Please note that we did not invite the Westboro Baptist Church to our campus. However, as a state institution, we are obligated to provide for public protests, including the expression of political and religious speech. The University has followed U.S. Supreme Court rulings regarding the designation of areas where protests may occur on campus. These two sites are the flagpole area near the entrance of the campus and an area just to the right of the main entrance of the student union. Designation of these areas allows protests to take place without disruption of classes and scheduled campus activities.
The Kansas group has reportedly conducted protests which include hateful and provocative language. Some believe this type of protest is aimed at inciting onlookers to lose their tempers and assault members of the protesting group. I strongly urge that members of the Nicholls community not provide this group the reaction they may desire. Let’s not bring any attention to the protesting group or the hateful message that they spread.
Nicholls State University celebrates its diversity. We must continue to support a campus environment which is inclusive. Please join me in celebrating what Nicholls is about on April 18, 2005. Ignore these individuals, respect their constitutional right to protest while they are on campus, and let them go their way.