Something to Preach About

As a student nearing the end of my undergraduate studies, I find myself sometimes juggling more than I can handle. I have an unpaid internship, a full course load, a weekend gig as a waitress, an e-journal that we are restructuring, and two other organizations I am a member of. Essentially every second of every day is structured so tightly, that sometimes I feel as if my head might explode.



Last Thursday was one of these days for me. I had a deadline to meet for some copy I was working on and a paper to write that I had forgotten about until two days prior. After pulling an all-nighter, I had just 2 more hours to write the last 3 pages of my paper. As is typical of the first week of November, the weather had finally cooled off enough for me to work outside of Cooper Hall.  I was in my groove, and I had just gained back my focus when I saw the giant ‘Repent’ signs out of the corner of my eye.



I see them out there every week between Cooper Hall and the Library, and usually I just put in my head phones and look the other way. This time they had upped their game. One of the middle aged white men carrying the biggest sign had a megaphone. I put on my head phones and blasted Andrew McMahon’s voice in my ears, but even on full volume his voice was all I could hear. They call this practice evangelism, but I call it harassment.



USF is, after all, touted as a global university—it is meant to be inclusive of all cultures, creeds, sexual orientations and gender identities. Yet, every week these preachers return to harass anyone who is not in line with their ultra-conservative Christian beliefs. They condemn the LGBTQ students, as well as spreading dangerous propaganda which perpetuates Islamophobia. 



As much as I am a proponent of freedom of speech, I also believe that my university should be a safe and peaceful space for everyone to study and learn. I couldn’t concentrate with that hate mongering screeching in my ear. I got my paper finished with fifteen minutes to spare, but the distraction left me feeling irked for the rest of the day.  These preachers are not students at USF, so why are they given precedence over those of us who are paying tuition? Why are they allowed on campus at all? They openly scream at LGBTQ and Muslim students week after week. In a time where white fundamentalist Christian males have been going on killing rampages, hate speech is not just uncomfortable, it is dangerous .  



The time has come for USF to be a space where all students feel safe and secure. This stressed out student, in particular, would be overjoyed if the administration honored their inclusive message, and finally banned these preachers from our campus once and for all.