2009-2010 School Year
Missouri State University Bears 4 Life
SFLA maintains contact and tracks the progress of over 500 student pro-life groups. We join as many Facebook groups and group email lists of these groups as possible. We read their emails just as if we were members of the campus group. MSU Bears 4 Life is one of the most recognizable groups to the Students for Life staff because of their outstanding ability to keep their group members engaged and informed about their campus organization and the pro-life movement.
Through their weekly emails and their Facebook fan page, MSU Bears 4 Life group members are kept informed about upcoming events and the administrative business of the group. Everyone who receives their messages knows that this group is active and will be a wise investment of their time. As a result of their messages and event advertisements, Bears 4 Life has about 12 to 14 people show up to their meetings every week. To help keep their members engaged, they personally encourage others to attend meetings and events. It is important to recognize that people respond to personal requests rather than to mass emails. MSU Bears 4 Life President, Tessa Marmouget said, “I think that we are successful because we are all caring individuals who have built up friendships that allow us to work well together.” Some of their main events this semester have included assisting the Pregnancy Care Center in their annual Walk-A-Thon and hosting a Cemetery of Innocents on Campus, fundraising events to bring Scott Klusendorf to campus next semester, and, to build group unity, they all attended a Hockey Game together!
To keep people engaged in the group on campus, it helps to show them how the group is plugged into the national pro-life movement. Students need to know that the work they are doing on campus is important to the pro-life movement and is instrumental to any success we will have in overturning Roe v. Wade. MSU Bears 4 Life actively keeps their group members informed about what is going on in the pro-life movement and often forwards messages from national pro-life organizations to their group members so they can also feel a part of the movement. On campus, MSU Bears 4 Life took part of the national pro-life movement to keep government funded abortion out of the proposed heath care legislation by having a letter writing campaign to Congress about the Stupak Amendment.
University of California -Berkeley Students for Life
We often hear from students that they can not grow their group membership and increase group activities on campus because their campus is “very liberal.” However, most are shocked when we tell them that there is a great pro-life group at the notoriously liberal University of California-Berkeley.
Berkeley Students for Life had a very active fall semester. In addition to their weekly tabling (5 days a week) and regular volunteer work at their local Crisis Pregnancy Center, Berkeley Students for Life hosted a GAP display, several diaper drives, prayer vigils at the local abortion clinic, two documentary screenings, and hosted guest speaker Rev Walter Hoye.
What is the secret to their success?
“It is important to realize that it is possible to do a lot with less people than you might expect, but the key is to find committed people. I think membership for a pro-life group on a liberal campus is always bound to be small, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be dedicated. Size doesn’t determine efficacy” said, Alberto Gonzalez, President of Berkeley Students for Life.
Berkeley Students for Life has approximately 10 active members. Their recruitment activities involve participating in the annual Club Fair, table weekly; sign up sheets available at all of their group sponsored events, and building a rapport with other key student organizations on campus so that they can announce Berkeley Students for Life events at their group meetings.
We all recognize that keeping members dedicated to the group can be difficult, especially when the group is small. “In order to keep everyone engaged, you need to be sure that they have something to do, so don’t be afraid to giver you new members a task, thinking that they will run away” said, Alberto Gonzalez. The 5 member Executive Board meets outside of the general meetings so that they can plan ahead for the next meeting and establish the long term goals for the group. This helps to make sure that there is always something interesting to do/discuss at each meeting to help keep the general members active and engaged. The group also recognizes that in order to “establish regularity and a sense of commitment” it is important to have regularly scheduled meetings. In addition, they also maintain a calendar of regularly scheduled events (in addition to their larger activities) to provide activities for the members to participate in. They also utilized some of their larger events to continue dialogue on campus about abortion and generate interest in the group. “On our campus, there are many apathetic people who have some sort of stance on abortion and other right-to-life issues, but they remain silent about it. GAP was an effective impetus, and abortion became a frequently discussed topic on campus for the rest of the week, and even on to the following week. The discussion was not merely limited to casual conversation; it became a topic of discussion in some classes, and was also a feature of the school newspaper” said, Alberto Gonzalez.
They also maintain a website www.berkeley4life.org , a Facebook group, weekly email updates, and a newsletter attached below to keep their members informed and involved in the group.
Boston College Students for Life
BC’s pro-life club has certainly been busy this year, promoting a culture, both on campus and off, that respects human life at all stages, from conception to natural death.
Their fall semester was packed with events, from Planned Parenthood vigils to Truth Booths to Cemetery of the Innocents to Bake Sales. They also brought in many speakers, to highlight different aspects of the pro-life movement, from Post-Abortive Healing to the importance of Pregnancy Resource Centers.
University of Maryland-College Park Terps for Life
It can be difficult at times to get abortion related dialogue started on campus. We have great events and pro-life information to share with our classmates but at times it can be difficult to reach the entire student body with our message. The Terps for Life group at the University of Maryland held numerous events this year on campus to raise awareness about abortion and the needs of pregnant and parenting students. A few events that they have hosted on campus were a Cemetery of Innocents, Guest Speaker Joyce McCauley Benner of Feminists for Life to share her personal story on why she chose Life after being raped, and a Pregnancy Resource Forum hosted by Serrin Foster of Feminists for Life.
What is so noteworthy about the Terps for Life is how they were able to use these events to continue the dialogue about abortion. They had an Op-Ed written by the group president published in the student paper and several other articles were written about the group’s activities. Note: Not all of the articles written about the group’s activities were favorable. However, this group was able to continue dialogue by posting comments under each article in the online forum. They used debate strategies taken straight from Stephen Wagner’s book “Common Ground Without Compromise.” Dozens of comments were made and the Terps for Life president was able to have polite dialogue. No matter the response his comments were the most rational and respectful. He was even able to dialogue with the pro-choice group president in this online forum. They are now hoping to work together to bring more resources to campus for pregnant and parenting students. To better prepare their group members to talk with a language of common ground, Terps for Life encouraged all group members to attend their pro-life 101 training meeting. They also provided all members with a links to other apologetics online trainings and to keep updated with pro-life current events. It is important for any pro-life group to encourage all new members to go through a pro-life apologetics training course which will give new members more confidence in defending the pro-life message on campus.
University of Miami Respect Life
UM Respect Life is an unique group that, this year, used innovative methods to denounce abortion and its harmful effects on women. To educate their peers on the dangerous effects of legal abortions, they hosted a memorial for the women who have died from legal abortions since Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. They created a Facebook page for this activity and encouraged all pro-life student groups to host this event: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=41318091462.
In their effort to protect women from abortion, UM Respect Life developed a pregnancy resource packet for their campus health center to distribute to pregnant studies. The packet included information on local Crisis Pregnancy Centers. In addition, UM Respect Life created their own pregnancy resource website: http://umiamipregnancy.org. The website has information about local Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Student Parenting tips, Adoption, Abortion, Fetal Development Videos, and information on Women’s Health. UM Respect Life actively advertises their website and local Crisis Pregnancy Centers throughout their campus.
In addition, UM Respect Life hosted over 15 activities during the 2008-2009 school year. Their events included a Fetal Development Exhibit asking students to indicate where life begins, participated in the Life Chain and Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity, held voter education efforts, attended the SFLA Annual Conference, hosted a guest speaker from PLAGAL, previewed the movie 22 Weeks, and organized a raffle, “Missing: 60 Million Girls”, to raise money to fight sex-selective abortion and female infanticide. At the end of the 2009 school year,
UM Respect Life was recognized by the University of Miami as the Best New Student Organization.
University of Arkansas Students for Life
UA Students for Life is one of the most recognizable groups to our SFLA because, although they only started at the end of September 2009, they have done an outstanding job recruiting new members and keeping active.
In order to spread the word on campus about the group and its activities, they have created a Flier Committee who puts up fliers for all their events in almost every building on campus! As a result of this advertising, along with their use of facebook, email, and word-of-mouth, 12 to 15 people show up to their meetings. UA Students for Life has also done an excellent job in their outreach. Vice-President Julia Pritchett says she thinks they are successful because they “have members who have children, who work at crisis pregnancy centers, who represent Greek houses, who have a large role in their church, etc. We have been able to reach out to several different groups because of the connections our members have.”
When they first started last semester, UA SFL understood the need to hold an event which would tell the whole campus that the group was active and going strong. Julia believes that “the most successful event was the Silent Day of Solidarity. It was a bold display which attracted a lot of attention and really got our name out there.” UA Students for Life continued to stay active last semester and this spring by chalking hearts, having Bella movie night complete with a speaker, and keeping in touch with and volunteering for the Crisis Pregnancy Center. They are currently planning a showing of Juno and plan to participate in the Pro-Life T-Shirt Day.
Loyola University-Chicago Students for Life
Loyola Students for Life works diligently to reach students of all backgrounds by flyering and clipboarding to engage students and counter Planned Parenthood’s recruiting efforts on the same corner. They also utilize Facebook, as well as their school newspaper, campus building monitors, school calendars, and their university ministry.
Once Loyola is able to gain new members, they keep them involved by putting their members in charge of planning and carrying out events so that they feel that they are very much a part of the movement. Another way Loyola helps maintain the membership they have is by putting them in charge of regularly occurring events that allows them to feel that they are directly impacting the pro-life movement and directly saving babies, such as sidewalk counseling, which they do at least twice a month. Loyola also recognizes the importance of having socials to encourage their group members to build lasting relationships.
One of their most successful events this past year was hosting Jill Stanek, who spoke on her experiences as a nurse and how they led her into the pro-life movement and the push for the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. They were able to advertise this event in a way that attracted pre-med and nursing students as well as political science majors because of the focus on her legislative work. This group works on bringing in speakers that will cover issues that pro-abortion and borderline students will be interested in attending, and while there they approach these students and begin discussions with them to understand why these students feel they way they do and how they can counter that on their campus.
Through their hard work, Loyola Students for Life has also been able to work their way into their University Ministry in order to have a bigger voice on campus, so they are able to reach as many students as possible.
A letter from the University of Michigan Students for Life
Dear Fellow pro-lifers,
I want to tell you about the freezing Saturday morning in January that solidified every belief I had held regarding abortion. The University of Michigan Students for Life group sends volunteers out to the local Planned Parenthood every Friday and Saturday morning to be a witness for Life as well as to offer the women entering the clinic other options that save their babies and themselves from the pain of abortion. I had always been too busy and too nervous to make the time to join. However, one week, I finally worked up the courage to spend a few hours with them, just to “see what it was like.” I am forever changed.
It was a busy day at the clinic. Within an hour, the parking lot was full and the security guard had to direct clients to a second lot. Much to our surprise, after an hour in the cold and no success, a young woman that had entered the clinic just moments before came back out to speak with us. She stated that she had found out that she was pregnant about two weeks prior and didn’t know what to do. She was a full time student, trying to finish her degree. She wasn’t prepared for a child and felt she had no other options and had scheduled an abortion for that day, in just 15 minutes. We gave her some information on a crisis pregnancy center on campus and talked with her about what her baby looked like, what to expect inside the clinic, and what options we could offer her if she decided to continue carrying her child to term. She stated that she saw our presence as a sign and that she wished she had known about those options prior to making her appointment for that morning. She thanked us but unfortunately opted to keep her appointment and went back in. We felt we had lost.
However, the hope within each of us burned brightly as we stood in our huddle, praying and hoping for the mother and her tiny unborn child. The minutes passed. Soon it had been over an hour and we were almost certain we had failed her. I regretfully left the clinic, praying for the woman and her child’s safety.
Not fifteen minutes after I had left, my phone rang. It was another student that was still praying outside, resolved to remain there until the young woman came out. My heart skipped several beats as I answered the call, awaiting the news. As soon as I heard her voice I knew that our prayers had been answered: A BABY HAD BEEN SAVED!
The young woman had come out of the clinic with the words “I didn’t do it!” and a smile lighting up her face! Fellow pro-lifers, your presence DOES make a difference. We were blessed to see the direct effects of our time outside the clinic that day and it has forever changed each of us. However, there is no way to know how many women see people like you and I standing outside abortion clinics, rethink their decisions, and exit the clinic with their baby’s life still intact. Your prayers, presence, and witness change lives.
Never give up. Someone’s life depends on you!
Yours for Life,
University of Michigan, School of Nursing