In light of recent controversial street preachers taking to Ball State sidewalks, a group of students have banded together to spread the message of "hugs, not hate." 

After two self-proclaimed preachers stood at the Scramble Light on Sept. 27 to protest, students were quick to take action. A group on Facebook, Students Against On Campus Harassment, was formed later that day in response to the preachers' "hate speech," and after a rumor that another preacher would be on campus Sept. 30, members of the group planned a counterprotest for the same day.

Sophomore cello performance major Emma Engler said the purpose of the counterprotest was to "spread the love" in hopes of distracting students from the preachers' hate.

"We heard that there was going to be a hate preacher on campus — another one. So we thought we'd come out and spread the love," Engler said. "Even though he didn't show, it still means we can be out here and love people."

Students came out to protest the rumored preacher and their beliefs, but Engler also put emphasis on her personal beliefs, sporting a shield that read, "my body my rules," to make an additional statement, she said.

"I believe that loving people should come without terms and conditions," Engler said. "You should love people no matter who they are, no matter who they love, no matter what they do and you shouldn't need a reason for it. You should just spread love because everyone deserves it."

Freshman stage management major Seth Mendez also planned on encountering the preacher through voicing his beliefs, but instead of a preacher, Mendez encountered students offering free hugs while at the Scramble Light.

"We can't really do anything other than show that there's an opposite reaction to what [the preachers] are trying to do," Mendez said. "There is love in this world and you have to find it, you can't belittle it."

After an encounter with the one of the preachers the week before, freshman public history major Ashley Penny said she decided to stay and protest the messages the preacher had to share, hoping to spread a more welcoming feel to those on and visiting the campus.

"Our campus is supposed to be a safe zone for us. We shouldn't have to deal with [the preachers] coming here and telling us that we're wrong," Penny said. "I feel like it's very important to have people, to come out and to be here and to tell the students that, yes, these hate preachers have come to our school, but you know what, there's a opposite and equal force pushing back against them, we are here, we will spread the love."