Demonstrators with anti-gay signs picketed Rowan University’s Glassboro campus Thursday afternoon, university officials said.
University President Ali A. Houshmand said the demonstrators quickly drew attention from Rowan students, who countered the provocative speech and signs.
Reports said demonstrators carried signs and wore clothing with anti-gay and anti-women slogans. According to 6ABC, two students were arrested for throwing sodas at the demonstrators.
Houshmand issued a public statement Thursday evening on the school’s Facebook page.
“Rowan University is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all members of the community and rejects the abhorrent sentiments expressed by the protesters,” the statement said.
The university briefly directed students to avoid the area, but a counterprotest began as students encircled the protesters.
Freshman Emily McGrath, an alumna of Egg Harbor Township High School, was leaving the Campbell Library about 1:30 p.m. when she saw her fellow students gather around the demonstrators.
“There were four men (spreading) hate and about 400 students surrounding them at the peak,” she said.
McGrath said the students formed the counterprotest to express disdain for the demonstrators’ messages.
“We wanted to let them know hate does not have a home on our campus,” McGrath said. “We have such a diverse campus, it was important to us to rally together and show that we don’t condone that.”
Student Government Association President Rbrey Duane Singleton issued a message to students: “We’ve been standing in the face of hate today, and many in our community have been standing against hate their entire lives. Let’s be bigger and turn our backs on hate.”
Glassboro police and campus security were on scene as the demonstration drew further attention, barricading the demonstrators near the student center patio.
Houshmand said the university is obligated to allow freedom of expression but does not endorse or condone hate speech.