NOMINATED FOR BEST COLLEGE GROUP: Ohio University Bobcats for Life 

Paige Farquhar - 22 May 2024

As the 2023-2024 academic year ends, Students for Life of America (SFLA) will be handing out awards for Best New Group, Best High School Group, Best College Group, and Best Standing With You Group distinctions – and you get to help us choose which groups deserve these awards. Ohio University (OU) Bobcats for Life in Athens, Ohio, is nominated for Best College Group of the Year. Learn more about this group below and decide whether they’ll receive your vote:     

Ohio University Bobcats for Life is a passionate and motivated group of pro-life students that started in the spring of 2023. Starting with only a handful of first-year students, in less than a year, the group has grown to nearly 20 dedicated members who actively attend events and meetings at one of the most hostile public universities in Ohio.    

Bobcats for Life was a crucial player in the Issue 1 election in Ohio, dedicating hours to spreading the truth and being innovative in their activism. Issue 1 was an extreme ballot initiative that enshrined abortion through all nine months into Ohio’s State Constitution. Along with door knocking and phone calls, they tabled on campus for over 20 hours, 8 of which they used to register students to vote. In addition, they tabled for six hours at the Local Farmers Market about Issue 1.

They also spoke with like-minded groups on campus on Issue 1 and the importance of voting. One of their most impressive and innovative activism strategies came when they wrote an Issue 1 voter education guide for the OU Student Senate. This guide was passed out to the student body and represented the anti-Issue 1 side for a Student Senate debate that they pitched as a campus event. Another example of this group’s innovation was when they used the OU’s Dads’ weekend to their advantage and chalked the sidewalks about Issue 1. Lastly, on election day, they tabled for six hours and did exit polling for SFLA to provide insight into voter demographics.   

Throughout the campaign, they also made sure to be involved in other areas of activism, including supportive services and rapid response. During the fall, they volunteered multiple times at their local Pregnancy Care Center, sorting clothes, running a Bling Sale, and working at their banquet. During the fall they also attended the second annual Ohio Pro-Life March, the Ohio University Homecoming Parade, National Pro-Life Chalk Day, and more. At the homecoming parade, the group was booed, and someone even spit on one of the members.   

One of the group’s most vital pillars of pro-life activism is rapid response. The leadership is in touch with the happenings on the other side of their campus. Group members are willing to volunteer, allowing them to respond quickly and effectively when pro-life ideals are under attack. Their biggest rapid response event to date was countering a pro-abortion protest put on by Athenians for Bodily Autonomy.   

So far this school year, this group has held 60 events, making it one of the most impressive and active in the country, especially for a public university. Although they have far exceeded expectations, they still need to complete events for this year, with some of the most significant events on the horizon. They plan to have a Pregnancy Care Center tour, participate in National Pro-Life Chalk Day, and host several more tabling events.  

They are looking forward to the 40 Days for Life Vigil, which is meant to bring the whole Athens community together on the pro-life issue. They have three unique fundraising plans that will support Cat’s Cupboard, a food/basic needs pantry on campus, the Athens Pregnancy Resource Center, and future group events. During Mom’s Weekend, they will be camped on College Green with a labor pain simulator to fundraise and cultivate appreciation for mothers. The group also plans to work with The Campaign for Abortion Free Cities, host a Water Balloon, a Pro-Lifer event, and more.  

Because of these and other accomplishments, OU Bobcats for Life has earned some well-deserved recognition. They were one of Students for Life’s November Group of the Month recipients for their hard work and dedication during the election and were featured in local newspapers. The President, Olivia Barnes, even had a Letter to the Editor published in The New Political that gained traction following the passing of Issue 1.  

 As they look ahead to the 2024-2025 school year, they hope to host Kristian Hawkins, founder and president of SFLA and Students for Life Action (SFLAction). They also plan to prompt university policy changes to support pregnant and parenting students and continue changing hearts and minds on their campus and community.  

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