A petition has been created asking President Bob Davies to ban Brother Ross Jackson from Murray State University.
Jackson, who has earned the nickname “Hell Guy” among students, has visited Murray State three times, drawing the attention of students and utilizing the “free speech circle,” where students gather around him and he preaches his beliefs. Jackson commonly targets women, as well as other groups, including the LGBT community. He arrived last Monday Oct. 31 and stayed through Tuesday, Nov. 1. Approximately 75 students gathered around him.
Sylvia Stewart, sophomore from Clarksville, Tennessee, created the petition Oct. 2 after seeing Jackson’s return to campus. She said the idea also stemmed from witnessing Jackson on campus last year.
“I started wondering if that was going to be every fall: go to school, laugh at ‘Hell Guy,’ then go home and complain about it,” Stewart said. “Why couldn’t I try to actually do something about it?”
Stewart said it also hits home for a lot of students.
In her petition, which can be found on Change.org, Stewart asked Davies to ban Jackson from setting foot on campus. The description states Jackson’s presence on campus makes the “university look horrible,” especially for high schoolers who come to visit and tour during Jackson’s preaching.
Stewart said several of Jackson’s actions fall under harassment. These include Jackson asking women about their virginity, verbally demeaning them for their appearance and singing a song that he refers to as “It’s Not Okay To Be Gay.”
“I got on my computer and started the petition,”Stewart said. “But I really didn’t think it would get this much support.”
Some students are strongly in support of the petition and think Jackson deserves to be banished for his actions.
“He needs to go away,” said sophomore Bailey McChesney from Danville, Indiana. “All he does is bring negative energy to the campus, and it isn’t right for him to talk down to everyone with beliefs different to his own.”
On the other hand, some students believe that banning Jackson from the university is not as urgent of a matter as others and interferes with freedom with speech.
“I believe unless he breaks a university rule, he has the right to speak in public,” sophomore Jacob Bandura said.
The petition has 836 signatures, more than 100 comments and shows no signs of slowing down. Davies has not commented on the petition.