Oakland University is talking about genocide after a student group presented provocative images of death camps, executions, and abortions to campus, last week — April 7th and 8th, 2014.

The Genocide Awareness Project

The exhibit, called the Genocide Awareness Project, was hosted by Students for Life at Oakland University. The exhibit belongs to and is sponsored by The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform which is based in Lake Forest, California.

“I would say that before this display was up here, say a week ago, very few people were really talking about abortion,” Mark Wolf said, a volunteer representing the center. “I would say right now the whole college campus is talking about this.” Mark adds, “It’s started conversations going that weren’t going before.”

Opposing Views

However, not everyone on campus was thrilled with the exhibit. Voices for Choices, a self-described ‘pro-choice’ student group responded to the exhibit with a protest across the sidewalk.

According to Lauren Catoni, treasurer of Voices for Choices, Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Oakland County NOW helped organize the protest.

“It’s definitely starting a conversation, but I don’t think it’s the right way to do it,” Catoni commented. “If you need graphic images to start a conversation then you need to rethink what you want to talk about. Because clearly your idea isn’t enough on its own.”

Matthew Seba, marketing chair of Students for Life, disagrees. “We need to get the word out. If you’re going to be quiet and hide these images, hide the truth, nothing is going to change.”

Click here for the complete podcast (or scroll to the bottom!)

Student Opinions

The responses of students interviewed were mixed.

“I think it’s negative,” Amber Stankoff said. “To be honest, it’s kind of disturbing.”

Mohamad Osman found himself in the middle, “It’s very gut wrenching, but at the same it’s very informative.”

“It’s good to raise awareness and have people see the different side of things,” Shannon O’Connor said, “So, I guess it’s positive.”

In an email, President of Students for Life at Oakland University, Mirna Awrow writes, “No one likes looking at the images — including us! Think about it though, abortion is gruesome, because it decapitates unborn children, and that is why it must end!”

Civil Debate

Students and guests participated in an ebb and flow of conversation and debate, and the murmur of discussions — both philosophical and personal — created an atmosphere not often seen in the day-to-day life at Oakland University. Make no mistake, the conversations were passionate, but the free intermingling of ideas is a merit to the student body.

“I think it’s a good thing,” said Paul Marvin, a student. “It’s necessary we should be talking about important issues in society, and it’s good to have both sides listening to each other and having a conversation.”


The participants speak for themselves. Listen to the podcast below or click here to download. If you already watched the video, begin at 1:40 to pickup where it left off.


Interviewees in the podcast, by order of speech:

  • Mark Wolf, Volunteer with The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform
  • Lauren Catoni, Treasurer of Voices for Choices, Student, Oakland University
  • Matthew Seba, Marketing Chair of Students for Life, Student, Oakland University
  • Haylie Presnell, Student, Oakland University
  • Christina Lo Piccolo, Treasurer of Students for Life, Student, Oakland University
  • Shannon O’Connor, Student, Oakland University
  • Paul Marvin, Student, Oakland University
  • Mohamad Osman, Student, Oakland University
  • Miranda Roberts, Student, Oakland University

About the Author

Matthew SemrauMatthew Semrau is a student at Oakland University and a supporter of Students for Life at Oakland University. He is a senior, majoring in communication and minoring in journalism and theatre.


Due diligence was taken to ensure a fair and balanced report. Every effort was taken to obtain a representative sampling of those at the event, but was limited by time and openness of participants. Great lengths were taken to avoid personal bias by this reporter and to be transparent about the purpose of the interviews.

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