Written by Emily Wilkinson, Students for Life West Coast Regional Coordinator
Are you a pro-life student who wants to be involved in pro-life activities on campus, but
you’re hesitant to start an actual pro-life club? This is probably for one of two reasons:
- You are in the uniquely wonderful situation of being in a campus environment that
ISN’T hostile to the pro-life message, where the majority of students seem to identify as pro-life and it doesn’t seem like very many hearts and minds need changing, or
- You’re afraid that you won’t be able to find enough members to have a successful club that can accomplish much on its own, and you’re thinking it would be easier to instead do pro-life activities through a supportive, pre-existing group such as a Christian Club or Newman Center.
If #1 describes your experience, congratulations, you’re lucky if you don’t have to deal
with a hostile administration, condom fashion shows, abortion fundraisers, etc on campus. You can take advantage of this situation and the fact that you won’t have to spend half of your time struggling with opposition or battling discrimination from your administration! Your members can put all of their effort into making the club successful and productive.
If #2 is the case for you, it is great that another group with similar values is willing to support you and make pro-life activities part of its mission. However, an independent pro-life club can accomplish a lot more than if it’s just a side project of another club.
In deciding whether to establish an independent pro-life group at your school or not, here are a few points to consider:
- The ultimate reason your campus needs a club focusing its efforts on the issue of abortion is that women on your campus are getting abortions. A whopping 44% of abortions in the U.S. are obtained by college-aged women (18-24)*. Sometimes Christian universities think that abortion is irrelevant to their campus because their students aren’t having sex, but we know this is not the case. According to as study from the Alan Guttmacher Institute (the research arm of Planned Parenthood), 80% of young (18-29), unmarried respondents who identified as “Evangelical” have had sex. And 65% of women getting abortions identify as Christians (28% Catholic and 37% Protestant). How often do you see pregnant women walking around your campus? Probably rarely, and it’s the same reason Planned Parenthood stays in business.
- A pro-life group which starts as part of a Christian club may have to reestablish its identity later on.
Especially if you’re on a secular campus, you may have trouble disassociating yourself from your “parent club” when your pro-life group decides to break off and register as an independent club. While Christians might still comprise the majority of your members, you want to keep your group open to pro-life people of all religious beliefs and backgrounds. This could be difficult if you are still seen as “the Catholic group,” for example.
- Becoming a registered club makes you more visible/accessible to the campus and the local community.
What if a freshman wants to know if there’s a pro-life group on campus, and assumes there isn’t one because it’s not listed on the school website’s club page? What if a local pro-life group in your town wants to invite local students to participate in a rally or attend their banquet? Or what if another pro-life club at a nearby school wants to partner with pro-lifers at your school for an activity? If your school’s pro-life presence is not officially represented, you will remain invisible and inaccessible to many people who would otherwise join or support you.
- A registered club has access to more campus resources.
If you aren’t official, you can’t apply for funding or have special club privileges like reserving space on campus for free or displaying posters in designated areas.
- Structured groups accomplish more.
Defined leaders will keep things moving, group the school’s pro-life involvement, and ensure the utilization of available resources for students (like SFLA’s awesome trainings, event materials, Leadership Summits, etc!).
- Establishing a club can have an impact on future generations of students.
When you start a pro-life club, you are doing the most important work on your campus! You are bringing attention to the greatest human rights abuse of our time, improving your campus culture, and even saving lives. It’s not just about this semester, it’s about creating lasting change.
SFLA is behind you every step of the way. Now go forth and fill out that registration paperwork! If you need help starting a club, SFLA has many free resources. Go here to check them out!
*according to the 2012 study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy