Protesters, activists take to the Quad

News Reporter
Sister Cindy and Brother Jed Smock protest Feb. 11 at the Stallions.

Protests and rallies are not uncommon in the Texas State Quad and can create change using different techniques.

Texas State has a designated free speech zone in the Quad where students often protest and rally to create awareness of different issues. Students have witnessed a range of activism this semester, from silent protests to speeches, at the Fighting Stallions.

Rallies and protests are not a fad, and activism has driven historic change for decades, said T. Jane Heffelfinger, history senior.

Heffelfinger has protested regarding a variety of issues since she was in high school, including gay rights and police brutality.

Lately she has decided to shave her head, hoping her appearance will initiate conversation about the inactivity of the government search for rapists in America.

Heffelfinger said serial rapists are on the loose and efforts are not made to find them.

“For me it’s because I looked around (and) realized we had a huge problem (with rape),” Heffelfinger said. “You’re always given these reasons like ‘boys will be boys,’ whatever, or ‘they didn’t mean it,’ or ‘only bad girls get raped, slutty girls,’ and I was tired of it.”

She wants to stop that.

“We’ve spent at least 20 years fighting a war on terror, but the terror is in our own backyard,” Heffelfinger said. “We have terrorists in our own neighborhood, and they’re terrorizing women.”

Heffelfinger believes the goal of activism is not to change the minds of everyone on the street. The objective should be to identify those who share belief systems.

“Numbers are really the most important thing because once you have numbers, lawmakers will listen,” she said. “And lawmakers are the people you need to listen. That’s how you spur on change.”

Jessica O’Donnell, communication disorders sophomore and human committee director of H.E.A.T., said students want change when things don’t work.

“We’re here to spread the love,” she said, while standing in the quad Monday with a sign that read ‘Free Hugs!’

O’Donnell said her committee has been standing in the quad giving out encouragement, compliments and hugs for more than a year. The committee hears testimonies of change in people’s lives.

“People gravitate towards us because we don’t protest traditionally,” O’Donnell said. “We aren’t confrontational. Building relationships is a better form of activism.”

Cindy Smock, also known as “Sister Cindy,” said she and her husband, “Brother” Jed Smock, have been “Confrontational Evangelists” together for 37 years.

Jed has been a campus activist for 43 years. Cindy met him when she was a student at the University of Florida and heard him preaching.

“At the time it was just entertainment, but it got my attention, and I turned my life around,” Cindy said.

She said most people stop and watch protests for entertainment, but the Smocks use a different approach.

“We believe it’s our place to guilt students into receiving salvation,” Cindy said. “People think we’re harsh, and people are disturbed, but it’s because we call them out on their sins.”

Jed believes harsh activism is God’s way of calling into people’s lives.

“You have to tell people they’re lost and dead before they seek a savior,” Jed said. “Making people angry has its effects, and it’s working.”

Heffelfinger said activists have to take the advice of experienced advocates to be successful. Activism is most effective when participants gather as a group and focus on politicians. Activism should be about uniting people, not isolating them.

“To become an activist, you have to identify something that’s happening that’s a repeating problem,” Heffelfinger said.

She wishes young activists would cluster together and keep goals in mind.

“This is the world they’re going to grow up in,” Heffelfinger said. “They need to make sure it’s the kind of world they want.”