Pro-life student group wins settlement after professor tries to kick away the chalk messages

A Fresno State University professor objected to the messages written by a campus pro-life group.

(Courtesy Students for Life)

A California professor who is seen on video trying to censor pro-life students drawing with sidewalk chalk has been ordered to undergo a First Amendment training and to pay $17,000 as a result of a court settlement.

Fresno State University public health professor. Gregory Thatcher recruited students from his class to help deviate from the Fresno State Students for Life sidewalk chalk.

Thatcher reportedly harassed and intimidated in the group, accusing them of chalking outside the free speech zone on the campus — that hadn’t existed at the school since 2015.

“What the professor did was wrong, and the only admission of a student needs to speak on the campus, the First Amendment,” the pro-life club president, Bernadette Tasy, told Fox News.

The chalk messages encouraged students on campus to find pro-life healthcare options.

Tasy caught an exchange between himself and Thatcher in a video clip of the incident.

“Freedom of speech is freedom of speech the freedom of speech area,” Thatcher is heard telling Tasy. “It’s a pretty simple concept, okay? This does not constitute a free speech area. Okay?”

After Tasy insisted they had the permission of the university, Thatcher began to erase the chalk with his shoe.

“You have permission to put it down, and I have permission to get rid of it. This is our part of free speech. College campuses are not free speech areas,” Thatcher said: “do you understand? Apparently you don’t understand.”

As part of the settlement, in which Alliance Defending Freedom represented FSSL, Thatcher will pay $1,000 to Tasy and $1,000 to another student, Jesus Herrera, along with some attorneys ‘ fees. The professor is also subject to First Amendment training provided by the ADF.

Thatcher told Fox News he does not have to pay a cent out of your own pocket because the settlement was made by his insurance company.

“I did not, in any way, admit to any wrongdoing,” Thatcher said. “I did once sit through a training seminar, because I like to learn from others thoughts and opinions.”

But Tasy said: it’s not about the money.

“The important thing is that Dr. Thatcher will not be able to interfere with our expressive activities,” she said.

One of the pro-life group the message was: “You can be pregnant & success!”

(Courtesy Students for Life)

Tasy was “very shocked” that a professor would behave like that – especially at a public university.

“Public university professors should encourage free speech and not clear of existence,” she said.

Travis Barham, ADF Legal counsel, said that Thatcher was “in a league of its own” with such a blatant violation of the First Amendment.

“This is a very extreme case, because you have a professor trying to wipe away the chalk itself,” Barham said. “Far too often, university officials try to play the role of the speech of the police and try to restrict what can be said and where it can be said about the campus.”

Fresno State University has not responded to a request for comment. Thatcher remains listed as faculty in the Department of public Health, as determined by the College.

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular