American Religious Sounds Project

Pro-life demonstrators and student reaction


The Oval at the Ohio State University is the main campus green space, 11 acres of lawn and shade trees surrounded by OSU’s oldest academic buildings. At class change times, hundreds of students may cross the Oval’s many paths at once. On warm days, many more lounge on “Oval Beach” socializing, sunbathing, and playing with their dogs. In the winter, these crowds disappear, but in good weather, the Oval plays host to diverse club recruiting events, political and social justice campaigns, voter registration drives, class surveying and meteorology activities. Religious demonstrators are also common.

While most groups doing promotions on the Oval are OSU-affiliated or composed mainly of students, many of the religious groups who visit are from outside the university. When many students are likely to be outside, visiting preachers and activists have a guaranteed audience. Some religious demonstrators are highly political, focusing on issues like abortion, gender roles, and LGBTQ rights. These visitors can often be heard across the Oval and spotted by the clusters of amused, curious, or dismayed students they attract. Others are less vocal about politics, choosing instead to pass out literature about their traditions, such as Seventh-Day Adventism, the Ahmadiyya Islamic movement, and Christian Young-Earth Creationism. For many students, proselytism on the Oval is a go-to example of religion as they encounter it at OSU.

This clip was recorded during a demonstration by anti-abortion protestors in autumn 2016. This group of demonstrators sought to converse directly with students about abortion and the Bible. We can hear ambient sounds of the Oval, a demonstrator arguing that denying the rights of fetuses is ageist, and a demonstrator explaining the origins of Islam. (Caroline Toy)

Pro-life demonstrators and student reaction
Ohio State University Oval
City / State
Columbus, OH
Isaac Weiner
Recorded On
Religious Tradition
Christian (unspecified)
Types of Sounds
ambient, multiple voices, protest/rally, speaking
Types of Space
educational space, outdoors
Research Team
Ohio State
Day of Week
Time of Day
Pro-life demonstrators and student reaction