A man stands on the university's grass, his feet planted wide. In front of him is a table with three books on it, spread like a magician's card trick, waiting for you to pick one. He seems harmless enough, with a seemingly friendly face and bright eyes. But every time he opens out, the most offensive filth erupts. "You're all going to Hell!" He screams at a freshman biology student scurrying past. "If you do not accept God right now, you will be cursed eternally! Alcohol! Drugs! Sex! You're all going to Hell!"
I appreciate that you feel so strongly about something that you strive to tell the world. I appreciate that you feel so strongly to try and save my soul! Me, little ol' writing and linguistics major that I am, you're trying to save me. Through pamphlets, through Bibles, through lectures, through giving me no other choice but to stop and talk to you for twenty minutes when I should really be getting to astronomy, you are trying to save me. But none of it will work.
At what point does it stop being kindness and start being harassment? When I come out to my car parked at a residence hall and a Bible is one my windshield? When I'm nearly chased into a building because I refused a flyer that would save my soul? When people are in tears and avoiding an area altogether because a man is taken it upon himself to be an Enlightenment pastor and yell about Hell to the students?
Every public university has a space for free speech, where you can come and peddle whatever you want to the students, including a Savior.
But it is also the university's responsibility to protect the students from harassment. If any other organization, club, or business screamed at students or refused to let them walk away, they would not, could not, be allowed to come back. But in the name of Jesus, it's okay.
You will not convert me. Your methods are not working. In fact, you're regressing rather than progressing, because why would I ever want to join a church that is so close-minded and insistent? Let me exist. Let the students exist. Let us come to the table if we want to or walk away if we don't because trying to force us into a religion we do not want will just waste both of our time.
But thank you for trying to save my soul. I appreciate it.