Group of the Year Nominee: Marian University

Brenna Lewis - 07 Jun 2021


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Written by Marian University Knights for Life

The past academic year has been one of the most fruitful and empowering years for Marian University’s Knights for Life group. With a large active attendance list  and an even bigger email list, students and community members couldn’t stop coming to our events. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, our pro-life group held every event in person, with the most success and attendance rate compared to any other year and any other university sponsored club. 

Whether it be the joy-filled noise pouring from our monthly club meetings, the numerous baby saves outside the abortion facility just down the road, or the powerful keynote speakers that have come to our campus, Knights for Life and its members have poured their heart and soul into transforming our campus and community to a place of hope and light in the ever darkness of the predatory abortion industry. 

Supporting Young Moms

This fall, Knights for Life successfully launched our Pregnant on Campus Initiative (now known as Standing With You). Every dorm, residence hall and building on campus advertised pregnant and parenting services. The Nurse’s Office and Knightro’s Pantry had pregnancy care bags stocked, along with hefty donations of diapers and baby supply items ready to be taken by pregnant or parenting students. These diapers were collected through our first Knights for Life campus diaper drive- which was a HUGE success! Hundreds and hundreds of diapers were donated in our diaper drive boxes spread all over campus.

We transformed our two lactation rooms on campus so that they now provide a warm, welcoming, and shame-free place for student mothers to breastfeed. All of this was an opportunity for our members to become living resources for the very women who are being targeted by the abortion industry. By lovingly supporting students who find themselves in unplanned pregnancies while in school, the Pregnant on Campus Initiative played a key role in showing the Indianapolis community that pro-life and pro-woman are one in the same.

Respect Life Month Events 

For October’s Respect Life month, our first all campus event was titled Let’s Talk: Abortion, featuring a former Planned Parenthood nurse who spoke about the truth of the nation’s largest abortion vendor. In addition to her powerful experience, we had a post-abortive speaker, Serena Williams, and Project Rachel share their testimonies and speak about the healing services they provide to women in the Indianapolis area.  

Promoting Adoption

For November, we honored the country’s National Adoption Month by hosting our Choose Life Night, where students and community members could come and learn about the different supportive services available to pregnant and parenting students around the community, as well as the value of adoption as a life-affirming alternative. 

Overcoming Obstacles

Like many groups and pro-life organizations, the biggest setback we faced this year was being told that our club was unable to travel off campus for the Pro-Life March in Washington D.C due to COVID-19 restrictions. We didn’t want to cancel our biggest event of the year and we knew we had to do something. So, we brought Washington D.C. to Indianapolis and held our very own Stand for Life conference, with an on-campus March for Life and outdoor rally. This on-campus conference gave us the unique opportunity to visibly witness to our university— the students and professors that we see every day— the compassion and joy of the pro-life message.

In addition to watching the SFLA’s Keynote speakers each night, our conference was unique in that we created it. Marian University’s conference included student witnesses, a Medical Student panel, a Cemetery of the Innocents display, an on-campus march and outdoor rally with live music and the President of Right to Life Indy, as well as local pro-life lobbying, praying outside of abortion clinics, and gathering for a closing dinner and celebration. We had over 80 students participating in this week-long event. The transformation of our club and campus through this event goes unmatched. 

Collaborating with the Medical School

The biggest blessing this year has been the collaboration with the Medical School on Marian’s campus. We “adopted” one of the first-year med students to be our liaison between their school and our group, leading to an outpouring of pro-life resources and awareness to the medical students. This, unsurprisingly, didn’t go without controversy and backlash, as many medical students were vehemently opposed to anything pro-life. The Medical School had to have consultations and meetings about whether they would adhere to our group’s influence and whether our events could be advertised due to their controversial nature.

Yet, our club isn’t new to controversy, nor is it uncommon for us to hear rumors of counter protests at our events. In addition to our flyers being repeatedly ripped down and chalk displays being purposefully washed away, our most shocking pushback this year came from a fellow faculty member, who questioned, insulted, and publicly tainted our club’s image to nearly all faculty and staff at Marian University. Our final club event was titled “Ending the Cycle of Violence: The Pro-Life Response to Rape” and it was designed to address the most common, difficult challenge of conception resulting from rape.

We wanted to ensure that women, especially people on our campus, are aware of local organizations that provide help to women who have experienced this trauma and are abortion vulnerable. Hosting an event for the entire campus that sought to compassionately walk with survivors of sexual assault, particularly in the case of a resultant conception and answer one of the most common challenges to the pro-life position, was by no means an easy task.

Anyone who has participated in pro-life activism knows that this is one of the most difficult challenges to answer because of its intensely personal nature and the horrific violence of rape. Our club had the courage and grace to address this topic and invite Dr. Donna Harrison, the CEO of the American Association of Pro-Life OB/GYNs as our keynote speaker, as well as a pro-life survivor of sexual assault, and multiple organizations who serve women who have become pregnant as a result of sexual assault.   

After this professor’s email was sent to discourage faculty and students from attending this event, we are proud to say this event was the largest attended non-athletic student event on campus this year. A total of 129 students and faculty attended in-person, and the lecture hall was standing room only. We had 87 club members and 42 new people who had never attended a pro-life event before, many of them nursing students, medical students, and faculty. Hearts and minds were changed, compelling questions were asked, and for that we are forever thankful.   

We received multiple emails from professors thanking our club for our humility and perseverance despite the setback. They were pleased we put on such an important event and handled ourselves professionally. I had a powerful conversation with a medical student about the safety of abortion and was able to send him videos of Dr. Levatino for further understanding. He thanked me for taking the time to speak with him and our club had inspired him to be more passionate about this issue as well. The Dean of Students and Provost of Marian University both responded promptly to this situation and have spoken with the professor about his inappropriate actions. 

Inspired to Do More

While many, these successes do not fully scrape the surface of the perseverance, commitment, and passionate leadership demonstrated by our club members every day. The apologetics trainings, table displays, movie screenings and Q+A’s for the Hush and Unplanned films, candlelit vigils, weekly prayer and sidewalk counseling days outside the abortion facility, and our end of the year Officer Transition Leadership Retreat and Membership Ceremony also serve as evidence that our club is invested in the day-to-day grind of advancing the pro-life movement.  

Overall, the Knights for Life Club continues to educate the surrounding community on pro-life issues and hopes to grow more in the future. We are honored for the nomination of SFLA college group of the year and are immensely grateful for the help of Students for Life and the Pro-Life Generation. You are what gives this movement a voice! 

Here is a link to our Stand for Life Conference Campus video for an inside look at what we did…

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