FORT MYERS, Fla. -- College students in Southwest Florida said they feel harassed and insulted, Friday, by a group that has invaded their campus.
A concerned mother reached out to Fox 4 after her daughter came home saying she didn't want to go to class at Florida Southwestern State College anymore, Friday. Students on the campus said the preacher frequently seen occupies heavily traveled areas, making it impossible to avoid him on their way to class. "The pastor and preachers say they are going to hell for wearing a specific garment or wearing shorts that are a certain length," said Junior Pierre Louis, a student at Florida Southwestern State College. "It's way passed harassment at this point."
According to FSW students, the groups come back every spring to share their holy message. However, to them, it sounds more like hate. "[they say] things like all gays are going to hell," said Paige Arey, another FSW student.
FSW is not the only campus in the area the group attends. Students at Florida Gulf Coast University also said they have had encounters with the group. Angel Hernandez, a FGCU student, said he has seen a preacher telling young women they would "go to hell" for wearing short shorts. "If we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to go to hell," said Hernandez. "That's what he keeps saying basically."
Fox 4 went to officials at FSW with the students' concerns, and they told us that this behavior is allowed on campus because it falls under free speech. However, if the speech becomes disruptive or incites violence, school officers can step in and give a warning. If the disruption continues, they can be kicked off campus. "It's one thing if they're expressing their views and they don't agree with them, and it's another thing if it's disuptive," said FSW's Teresa Morgenstern. "That's where the line can be a little gray at times, but we always encourage our students to report it to an administrator, a public safety officer."
Hernandez said he chooses to take the high road, and walks past it. "I just ignore it. Honestly, it doesn't bother me, but I know other people find it pretty disruptive."
The group behind the message can be found on Youtube under the name "TeamJesusPreacher." Their videos indicate that Southwest Florida is only the latest of spots they have decided to demonstrate. Students expect them to be around for the rest of the spring semester.