Protesters dismantle pro-life society stall at Fresher’s Fair
‘We did not expect physical force and intimidation tactics from fellow Oxford students,’ says pro-life society
The Oxford Students for Life society stall was dismantled by students protesting the promotion of pro-life messages at the university Fresher’s Fair.
A small number of students removed the contents of the OSFL stall and had a large black waste bin to dispose of it.
After the protesters were stopped by security services, they insisted that the stall should not be present on the second day of the Fresher’s Fair but it was nevertheless reinstated.
Students took to social media to express their shock at the presence of a pro-choice society at Oxford.
The Students’ Union released a statement on October 7th highlighting how the “Oxford SU has to stand with and for its students”, reminding students that they are “unequivocally pro-choice”, indirectly critiquing the presence of the pro-life stall at the Fresher’s Fair.
This sentiment has since been supported by independent college JCRs and other societies. Oxford FemSoc have declared their “firm stance” against the presence of the stall, which they labelled a “threat to the safety, health and autonomy of women*”.
Oxford SU’s Women’s Campaign expressed their concerns that an ideology centred upon the “removal of reproductive freedoms was allowed to promote such views at an SU event”.
Brasenose JCR also released a statement attesting “that abortion is a fundamental human right”, declaring “misogyny unwelcome” in response to the presence of the stall.
While the president of the OSFL said: “We did not expect physical force and intimidation tactics from fellow Oxford students”, the SU released in their official statement that the reaction was not unprecedented and that they “anticipated… emotive responses and frustrations”.
This is not the first time the OSFL has faced backlash. In 2017, students disrupted an event the society held at St John’s College that engaged in the forthcoming abortion referendum in Ireland, resulting in police presence at the demonstrations.
The SU also made clear that the presence of the OSFL at the fair was due to their commitment to “Freedom of Speech regulations” and that independent societies are approved by the Proctor’s office, further distancing themselves from the society.
The OSFL describes itself as “student-run society” that seeks to protect “human life and dignity from conception to natural death”. Their website boasts members’ attendance of a pro-life march in London in September. The president’s sign, declaring ‘This is what a pro life feminist looks like’, was used at the Fresher’s Fair stall.
The president described the “interest from people on all sides of the debate over these ethical issues” that accounted for the “majority” of responses from the fair. Their official media statement concludes thanking “those working at the fair who have worked to protect our right to maintain our presence there”.
The protestors who dismantled the stall declined to comment.