Making waves: The campus pro-life movement
On Sept. 25-27, the National Campus Life Network hosted its 2009 National Symposium in Toronto. The goal of the annual event is to provide networking opportunities, information and practical advice that will contribute to a stronger and dedicated campus pro-life movement. With the theme, “Making Waves: The Campus Pro-Life Movement,” the focus was on equipping student leaders to make an impact on their campuses.
Student leaders from Victoria, B.C. to Charlottetown, P.E.I. attended. Speakers included Barbara Farlow, Dr. John Patrick, Jose Ruba, Kristan Hawkins, Fr. Tom Lynch, Lia Mills, Angelina Steenstra and representatives of the Sisters of Life.
Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America, works with campus pro-life groups in the United States and shared many creative and innovative ideas on how to engage students on campus.
A new event one of her groups has done is called the “Selective Popping Carnival,” which is used to show how abortion discriminates against the unborn based on arbitrary characteristics such as their size, level of development, environment and degree of dependency. Students are invited to pop one of the many balloons to win a prize. Inside each balloon is a note. An example is: “Congratulations – you win! … But wait … if you are under 25 years of age, you have not reached peak brain development and are, therefore, ineligible to receive a prize.”
The expectation is that the student will be confused and a conversation will follow, in which it will be explained that similar discrimination is applied to the unborn by using arbitrary characteristics outlined in the balloons. This event provides an innovative way to attract students, engage them in discussion and hopefully have them join the club.
Fr. Lynch, national director of Priests for Life Canada, addressed the issue of euthanasia.
He noted that this is “one of the hardest things to speak about on campus (because) nobody could care less.” He attributed the apathy on campus regarding this issue to students believing the problem will never affect them or reacting completely on emotions from a personal experience. The push towards euthanasia is coming at a time when the population is aging and the younger generation is “increasingly disconnected from dying.”
The campus leaders appreciated hearing about this issue and left feeling better prepared to address it on campus.
It was a jam-packed weekend that gave many student leaders the push they needed for another school year of promoting the pro-life message on their respective campuses. Asia Strezynski, from the University of Calgary, shared, “I thought the symposium was a huge success and I learned a lot of great new things to bring back to my campus.”