Preachers stir up controversy in Lee Plaza


One of the visiting preachers holds up a sign that reads ‘JESUS SAVES FROM HELL’ as he speaks to TAMU-CC students. Photo by Lillian Crane

Dante Ortiz, Reporter

Two preachers started controversy when they stood in the center of Lee Plaza and began sharing their beliefs with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi students as they made their way to and from classes.

Crowds gathered when the preachers arrived at TAMUCC Tuesday, Mar. 7. and spread their views condemning abortion and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Many students stood together in protest, making their own counterarguments against the preachers.

Student holding notebook sign next to preacher outdoors
TAMU-CC students hold up notebook signs next to preachers outside the Islander Welcome Center. Photo by Lillian Crane

The men commented on the way women were dressed, calling them immodest and warning students to “turn away from sin this spring break,” asking students to heed their words and “look to God for repentance” to avoid going to hell. 

“I understand free speech, especially in a university that promotes diversity and their different students of color and LGBTQ+ students. It’s ridiculous to me that they’re allowing people to come out here and say these kinds of things towards our students when this whole campus is supposed to create a safe and comfortable space, but yet this is allowed,” said a TAMUCC student.

Tensions continued to rise as students became outraged, made signage with their notebooks, and began circling the preachers, asking why they were there and what it was they wanted to accomplish with their actions. Students stood up for themselves and their fellow colleagues, expressing that this campus is a place of respect and acceptance regardless of gender, sexuality, skin color, and culture.  

Different student waving sage outdoors
Kristin Gutierrez, senior psychology major, waves sage in front of preachers. Photo by Lillian Crane
Different student talking to protesters outdoors
JC Trevino I, sophomore graphic design major, speaks to the crowd of students gathered about how Jesus loves everyone. Photo by Lillian Crane

UPD  surrounded the preachers, ensuring no one acted out in violence as University faculty made their rounds to check on students’ well-being and asked them not to engage with the men as their goal was to stir up controversy. Students were concerned as to why the University would allow the preachers to come here and freely share their messages of hate—questioning why the University was seemingly protecting the men and not its students.

“As a public institution and state property, everyone has freedom of speech in public spaces. Unfortunately, our students’ opinions may be different from their opinion, and a lot of what they want to do is draw a crowd, and they want to draw attention. If we don’t give them the attention they want, they will get bored and leave.”, stated a TAMUCC faculty member.  

Over the course of the week, organizations began pushing for change in engagement, with islander feminists asking via Instagram that students “Please don’t engage with hate speech on our island. They want an audience, whether it’s supportive or not”.  Protestors joined in this effort and held up signs that stated, “Help me deplatform, do not engage,” to discourage fellow students from interacting with the preachers. The men stayed on campus from Mar. 7-10. 

Different student holding sign next to different preacher outdoors
Sam Sweeney, junior environmental science major, stands next to one of the preachers with a sign that reads ‘HELP ME DEPLATFORM DO NOT ENGAGE’. Photo by Lillian Crane