DES MOINES, Iowa, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Hundreds of copies of a student newspaper in Iowa were found vandalized in front of the publication's office, and the only indication of a motive is a single circle drawn over an advertisement for a pregnancy resource center.
Authorities are still investigating who is behind the crime, which saw over 400 copies of the Times-Delphic, the student newspaper for Drake University, drenched in a pile, causing over $200 in damage.
One copy of the newspaper at the top of the pile had a circle drawn in black marker over an advertisement for a pregnancy resource center, Agape Pregnancy.
"It's just a little disheartening to me because it doesn't mean we support the organization, and we've run ads from Planned Parenthood in the past. So it's interesting to me that people are upset about it," Courtney Fishman, editor-in-chief for the paper, told KCCI.
Last weekend, Beth Younger, an associate professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies at the university sent a letter to the editor criticizing the Times-Delphic for accepting advertisement money from Agape Pregnancy:
I am concerned about this organization because they are known to be what is termed a "crisis pregnancy center." Crisis pregnancy centers are largely fronts for anti-choice, anti-abortion organizations and they are known for providing misleading information to young women who may be facing an unplanned pregnancy. While their ads lead women to believe they offer free services, they do not offer comprehensive reproductive information. I find it deeply troubling and problematic that The Times-Delphic is taking advertising money from these deceptive and harmful organizations. At the very least, if you must take its money, publish a disclaimer next to the ad so young women won't be fooled into thinking they can get free health care, when what they get is propaganda and harmful lies.
Further criticisms of the advertisement proliferated on social media over the course of the week, The Des Moines Register reports.
President of Drake University, David Maxwell, denounced the vandalism as an attack on free speech.
"This act goes beyond mere vandalism -- it is an attempt to curtail First Amendment rights regarding free speech, and is thus antithetical to our core values as the Drake University community," Maxwell said in a campus-wide email.
Maxwell said that Younger's letter to the editor was the proper way to express dissatisfaction, rather than destroying the newspapers, but noted that the Times-Delphic would continue to publish advertisements from Agape.