By Emma Maple | Editor in chief
Pro-life chalk messages drawn on the “Hello Walk” were crossed out and written over with pro-choice messages less than a day later.
The pro-life messages were drawn by the Students for Life club, which uses chalk to “create open conversation about abortion,” said Chloe Paparazzo, president of Students for Life. They do this in conjunction with the national Students for Life of America organization, which celebrates two national pro-life chalk days – one in the spring, and one in the fall. This fall’s date was Tuesday, Oct. 17.
The Whitworthian is unsure which individuals wrote the immediate pro-choice chalk responses. However, a few days after the chalk appeared, first-year Autumn Verstrate saw the messages. Wanting to contribute to the conversation, Verstrate bought her own chalk and added more pro-choice messages.
Her goal was that people who wrote the original pro-life messages would “understand why people aren’t for pro-life,” said Verstrate.
Students for Life chalking has drawn varied student responses in the past, including being intentionally washed out within 24 hours and sparking debate over Instagram.
Verstrate said that the idea of just washing out the pro-life messages crossed her mind, but doing that would not educate anyone or give them opportunities to learn.
“I feel like some people who do support the pro-life narrative may be misinformed on what pro-life and pro-choice actually mean. The people who are responding are trying to be like, ‘Hey, you should maybe consider this angle, you know?'” said Verstrate.
Anticipating some sort of response and hoping people would not wash away their messages, Paparazzo said this year the club focused the messages solely on pro-life issues rather than a range of topics.
“We’re about pro-life stuff,” Paparazzo said. “[Some club members] care about those other topics [such as gun violence, LGBTQ+ issues, etc.] but there’s other clubs to go to … this club is not the time to do that.”
“We’re already controversial,” Paparazzo said. “Why would we add more to it?”
She also asked her club members to not write messages calling individuals who are pro-choice “anti-baby.”
“They’re for something,” she said. “Their opinions should be more defined by what they’re for than what they’re against.”
On the morning of Oct. 18, Paparazzo said she felt very “proud” that no one had washed away the messages.
“I was really happy because I thought maybe this isn’t as polarized as it was last year,” said Paparazzo.
Later in the morning when Paparazzo saw the counter-messages, she said she wished she knew who wrote the messages so she could sit down and have coffee with them.
“Conflict isn’t something we can just run away from,” she said. “[We need to] lean into those controversies and actually have a discussion and see each other as humans that might have [a] different opinion.”