Montclair State University received its annual visit from radical Christian protestors on April 5. Two men stood in the Student Center Quad, holding their signs high and shouting their slogans loudly as students walked by, telling them to repent and find God. Their signs denounced those who are sexually active, those who don’t believe in Christianity and other groups.
But for the most part, students acted as if they weren’t there. They participated in Student Life at Montclair’s (SLAM) Spring Fever, standing in line for an ice cream truck, playing games and vibing with a live DJ. Red Hawks paid little heed to the protestors and mostly went about their day.
This is a much different reaction than last year’s visit when students showed up in mass numbers to counter-protest against members of the Key of David Christian Center. While many students expressed outrage at the protestors last January, this time around they either ignored the protestors or mocked them.
Most students walked right by the protestors. Others chose to blast music, dance in front of the protestors or shout jokes to them.
The protestors began on the main pathway in front of the quad and then moved in front of the Student Center steps in an attempt to gain more attention. They moved again in another attempt to the steps in front of the School of Nursing and The Graduate School building, where they stayed. Even with these attempts, most students paid them no attention.
Ashanti Teran, a sophomore hospitality, sports, events and tourism major, described how she saw the student body react.
“I feel like the students really don’t care,” Teran said. “They’re like, ‘Why are you even here?’ And it’s like, [the protestors] are here and the students, they’re just laughing and I feel like [the protestors are] not really making a point because nobody’s really paying attention.”
Kaiden Mendelsohn, a sophomore illustration major, was pleased to see students react this way.
“This is exactly what you’re supposed to do,” Mendelsohn said. “You’re not supposed to talk to them, don’t interact, don’t feed into their bulls*it and then eventually they’ll leave.”
Students who didn’t ignore or make fun of the protestors silently counter-protested instead. Elise Davis, a sophomore computer science major, was one, holding a sign that promoted reproductive rights in order to peacefully disrupt the Christian protestors.
“They came here last year and all they do is try to film and get people to attack them,” Davis said. “So I’m just trying to mess up their film by putting Planned Parenthood posters in it.”
Davis explained why it was important to remain calm while counter-protesting against the group.
“It’s important to not add fuel to their fire, to not give their viewers something to be upset about and to not give them something to be like ‘See, this is why we have a movement,'” Davis said. “[If we did, they would say,] ‘See all these crazy people out there?’ We’re not crazy. We’re just people and we just want our rights.”