McMaster Lifeline held an event on campus: “Abortion: Reproductive or Human Rights?” presented by Maaike Rosendal of The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.
Though it was protested and interrupted with yelling and chants, we want to give a big congratulations and thank you to McMaster Lifeline, Maaike, and those who respectfully attended and engaged in the discussion, for being willing to bring such an important message to campus.
What is a university, unless a place to respectfully share and discuss ideas and opinions? Needless to say, the pro-choice position embarrassed themselves that night.
See below for CCBR‘s official press release regarding the incident:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: McMaster Students Shout Down Anti-Abortion Speaker
Between 20 and 25 students shouted down an anti-abortion speaker Thursday night at McMaster University, disrupting the presentation, stealing a box of books and DVDs, and chanting until the police arrived.
The lecture was organized by McMaster Lifeline, a student organization dedicated to raising awareness about the abortion issue, and featured Maaike Rosendal, a speaker with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (www.endthekilling.ca). Pro-choice students apparently took issue with the fact that a speaker with anti-abortion views would be allowed to speak, and responded with various chants and signs featuring slogans like, “Pro-sex. Pro-child. Pro-woman. Pro-abortion.”
Audience members expressed irritation that the presentation was disrupted. The popular Facebook Page “Stuff McMaster Professors Say” posted the following statement: “Professors, TAs, and students alike attended this meeting simply wanting to learn more about the prolife view yet people got into unnecessary fights, violating their right to the freedom of speech. The presenters still went on but what they did gave a bad name for prochoicers and the University of McMaster… People in university hold different views from you. That doesn’t mean you should attack people. That doesn’t mean you should silence people. Grow up.”
“It’s a shame that pro-choice students think the only way they can win this debate is by silencing it,” Maaike Rosendal of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform noted, “We are more than happy to engage in dialogue, but at too many universities abortion supporters simply want to shout us down and shut us down.”
The McMaster incident follows on the heels of similar incidents at McGill University, the University of Waterloo, and Brock University. After the police arrived, they ensured the rights of all were respected and the presentation was able to proceed.
We are so sad to hear the news thatBrittany Maynardtook her own life on Saturday, November 1st, after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family, and we hope that they find hope and healing after this traumatic experience. We are also so sad to see a precedent set by the actions of Brittany and her family. In the face of suffering, our response should not be to give up and put an end a life that is so valuable.
No matter the state of suffering or hardship, our first and only intention should be to alleviate the suffering as much as we can and show our loved ones that they are valuable and have a purpose in this world, even through their illness.
In light of Brittany’s suicide, we want to encourage all of our students to go out of their way to show love and hope to all those around them. Treasure each life in front of you as if it were your very own. Take your club to visit hospices and homes for the elderly. The present moment can always welcome joy and hope, no matter what the future holds. Be a loving presence to those who may not have friends and family to hold their hand or hear their voice. May no one ever lose sight of their own value and purpose on account of our reluctance to reach outside of ourselves and touch the heart of another. Though we cannot reverse the actions of Brittany, we can do much to ensure that life and love prevail where death and fear overwhelm.
I was pumped. I’d made the long trek into Toronto: boarded the train in Guelph, was delayed 27 minutes by construction along the tracks, survived the crush of people arriving at Union, found the Northbound subway to Eglinton (Note: sometimes the flow of traffic isn’t going to the same place that you need to go), wove my way from the subway up to the light of day, headed through more construction down the road to the office, marched up the stairs (who does elevators?) and finally arrived at the office to the lovely, smiling ladies of NCLN. Woot! Made it!
We started going over what I’d be doing for the next six weeks and Rebecca handed me some additional reading: “Virtuous Leadership” by Alexandre Havard. “It’s a bit dry,” she said, “but a good read.” It looked dry. I figured I would get it over and done with so I started reading it on the train home. What an eye-opening treasure it was! A literary work of art, it unpacked the virtues that are necessary for effective leadership.
And oh did I need to hear it. I’ll be taking up the position of president for the Life Choice club at Guelph this fall. That’s just a tad intimidating. When you have a pro-life club to lead this often means dealing with chanting pro-choicers and challenging student unions, learning about all your club members so you know how best to delegate tasks, and holding meetings and activism several times a month. Havard had a few lessons to teach me about leadership.
True leadership is inextricably tied to a virtuous character. When we have virtue, we have the ability to turn our dream into reality. People will want to join us in bringing our dream to our campus and we’ll be able to empower them to that end. As Havard puts it, “the more deeply we live the virtues,… the more likely it is that we will change the culture.” The campus culture currently reeks of individualism, immorality and death. Only with virtue can we change the hearts and minds of the students around us.
As leaders we must live the virtues. Havard explains that with magnanimity we devote ourselves so generously to a cause that we give our very selves. We hold nothing back from our work and our zeal becomes contagious. The people on campus are more likely to pay attention when they see our hearts in it. Practicing humility, we seek to empower those around us by delegating tasks and training members so that we are not irreplaceable. Prudence critically analyzes what is the best way to make the biggest impact on campus. To carry forward these actions, we need courage, not just boldness and daring, but endurance in the the daily grind. Self- control is choosing to do what is necessary (like club accreditation *gag*) when we’d much prefer a trip to William’s with our club members. We need to be students of human nature to bring justice with love. We have this duty to everyone around us. Character ingrained with these virtues will make us the leaders our campus needs.
At Guelph, we have between 15 and 20 committed members who try to make it out to our weekly meetings. What Havard helped me to see in the virtues of humility and justice was that between the past president and myself, we were trying to lead the club alone. All our club members had to do was come and learn. We actually owe them so much more; our duty is to empower them as leaders. If I start delegating tasks, they will have so much more room to grow. We can be an unstoppable force on campus, reaching so many more people!
Our campus also needs us to be individuals, appreciating the unique qualities of each individual club member and of every person we bring the message to on campus. Justice requires it. If we are individualistic, however, we are ruined. We need to be unique while remaining interconnected. Please excuse the science major in me but I’d like to demonstrate with an analogy. We are like the zooids of a pyrosome (Say whaaaaaat?). This deep sea colony (the pyrosome) is essentially made up of thousands of tiny interconnected organisms (the zooids). The physical connection as well as the light sensitivity of each zooid creates bioluminescence so that the whole colony is aglow. We need similar relationships in order to help each other emit the light of the pro-life message in the dark waters of our campus.
Leadership is more than being able to stand up and talk to a crowd of people. It takes serious effort to develop ourselves into virtuous and excellent leaders but it’s so worth it. We will be able see the leaders growing around us, the hearts being changed, and the message of life blowing away the stench of the death culture on campus. Together, by becoming virtuous leaders, we will be able to make our dream a reality and end abortion in our lifetime.
Havard, Alexandre. Virtuous Leadership: An Agenda for Personal Excellence. New York: Scepter, 2007. Print.
We sing the words in our anthem, yet the word ‘patriot’ rarely seems to enter our vocabulary (unless we’re referring to Americans, of course). But in a society that has euthanasia knocking down the door and fully funds abortion-on-demand, true patriot love is sorely needed.
If we want to end abortion in Canada and build a Culture of Life, we need to start by transforming our own campuses. Our universities not only contain the age demographic most vulnerable to undergoing abortions, but also are responsible for forming and shaping young leaders who, in turn, shape the culture and the policies of our nation. To move our nation we must first must move our own wounded generation from a place of apathy to one of action.
We need a generation of patriots.
The Symposium is an intensive pro-life leadership training program, designed to equip and empower students to respond to and engage with the challenges of the university environment.
The program includes:
Training from the experts on the issues and effective campus strategies;
Skill development through interactive sessions and workshops;
Networking with student leaders from across Canada as well as leading members of the Pro-Life Movement.
For regular updates, check out our Facebook event.
Location: Toronto, ON Date: Friday September 26 , 2:30pm – Sunday September 28th, 1:00pm The weekend includes overnight accommodations for Friday and Saturday night as well as meals.
If your organization is interested in sponsoring this year’s Symposium,
please contact our Central Coordinator, Clarissa at email@example.com for more information!
This summer, do yourself a favour: on a sunny day, go find a quiet place in a park or by a lake or ocean, take a notebook with you, and spend 30 min reflecting on this. I can guarantee the time you put into it now will benefit you ten times more in the long run!
The following excerpts are taken from the article Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow. This article provides great insights into how we can grow as the leaders we are called to be. Reflect on the quotes and the questions to see where you can improve yourself so you can better lead others in sharing the pro-life message on your campus.
Leadership is an expression of your heart and soul. To become a leader, you need to know your higher purpose and believe in it passionately.
• What would you say your higher purpose is? Do you live a consistent life where your actions are in line with this purpose?
• Does your role in the pro-life club help you achieve this purpose?
Leaders need to feel comfortable in their own skin. It begins with the ability to explore and share one’s life story by helping people understand how we all mesh together for a meaningful journey. You intentionally begin to discover your authentic self by connecting with who you really are. Authentic leaders are not power driven but meaning driven people.
• What brings meaning to your life? How would you articulate this to others?
• How does your role in the pro-life club bring more meaning to your life?
As a leader you need to be fully committed to nurturing the well-being and commanding the trust of the people around you. Only in the context of a meaningful relationship can people feel empowered and inspired to demonstrate their greatest potential.
• Identify 2 students who you will meet up with for coffee this summer, taking the time to get to know them more so you can better work together in the pro-life club this upcoming year.
• What potential do you see in these students? Help them see how they can develop this by participating in the club.
The vision and direction of a team [is] about the ability of the leader to capture the big WHY in the hearts and minds of others. People rally behind a strong vision when they know WHY they doing what they doing.
• Why do you do what you do with the pro-life club? How do you articulate this to others?
• Do you truly believe in the vision of your club? “If you don’t get goose bumps telling others where our life is heading, your vision isn’t compelling enough to shape your behaviour.”* Is your vision compelling enough to inspire others to action?
As you start to look at the upcoming school year, keep these reflection points in mind. Are you approaching your leadership position in the pro-life club with the right heart? Are you the kind of person others want to follow?
*Mike Figliuolo in Let’s make leadership real again. Stanford, CA: Change This. (2012).
“It’s been a challenging few weeks,” said Mary to me when I had visited her high school this past school year. She had stumbled upon NCLN’s website because she was looking for support and resources to start a pro-life club. We had been in touch over the last few months, and in January, the club was approved.
“Friends who were supportive of the club at first backed away when we they realized we as a club were very much anti-abortion in all circumstances,” she continued. “I mean, we’re still friends, but it’s not the same. Something in the way we have talked has changed.”
I am sure those of us involved in the pro-life movepment have experienced some variation of this. I am also certain that many people out there that want to do more for preborn children are fearful of these kinds of changes. I used to ask myself these questions all the time: What will my friends think of me? How do I make them understand how important this is to me? How do I express my thoughts in a way they’ll understand?
Before I could reply, ready to share my own thoughts and experiences, Mary added cheerfully: “It’s okay though. I know it’s worth it.”
Mary has realized what I wish I had realized sooner: with 100,000 babies in the womb being killed every year in our country and countless more men and women hurt by abortion the changes in our personal relationships, whether temporary or permanent, often pale in comparison.
Though I still get nervous telling people I first meet about my work, I am reminded that they may never hear about the pro-life issue and the destruction abortion brings if I don’t talk about it. When family members ask how my work is going, I share the challenges and the hope it brings to my life with joy. When someone asks me with concern, “Do you really think you can change the culture and end abortion?” I think about the people whose lives have been changed for the better by the pro-life student leaders I serve, my incredible colleagues, and the pro-life movement at large, and answer with a resounding “Yes”.
Do we wish more people understood? Definitely. Do we want people to like us? Sure. Should setbacks and sacrifices in our relationships hinder us from sharing the truth?
(To those whose lives are impacted regularly by the joys and challenges that come with my own full-time pro-life work, and to the friends and family who may at times be at odds with what I do but still bless me with their support and their time, this post was written with you in mind, in immense gratitude. A special thanks to Mary as well for the inspiration she has been to me in her great resolve and courage to bring the pro-life message to her high school – which she has done quite successfully!)
Leadership transitions are about more than having elections and then moving all of the club materials from the corner of your bedroom to the corner of someone else’s! A successful transition is key to helping the new leaders build off of your successes. The following are a few important items to go over with the new club leaders:
Connect new club leaders to:
The local community pro-life organizations and leaders (A simple email or a quick visit can go a long way to ensuring they maintain those relationships and know where to go for support.);
NCLN’s local Campus Coordinator;
Other clubs that are sympathetic and supportive;
Any donors who have regularly assisted the club;
The rest of your club exec!
A Club Executive outing is a great way to build connections (and take a well-needed break from studying for exams!).
HOW-TO’S OF THE SCHOOL
Ensure new leaders know how to:
Re-apply for club status;
Create a budget, submit receipts to the student society and receive reimbursements;
Get posters approved;
Book tables and events.
Distribute these tasks throughout the club executive. Ideally these types of transitions are done throughout the school year as more experienced club members mentor other students who will take on leadership roles.
HOW-TO’S OF CLUB MANAGEMENT
Ensure new leaders:
Know how to chair a club meeting (from sending out a club agenda, to keeping the meeting on task, delegating responsibilities, and taking meeting minutes); (President & VP)
Know how to run the club email account (and discuss email etiquette! For example, always bcc: your contacts when sending a mass email.) (Club secretary + president/VP)
Review the club constitution and bylaws; (all leaders!)
Have had the signing authority for the bank account transferred to them and understand the ins and outs about dealing with the bank account. (Club treasurer + either VP or president).
March for Life: Who’s going? How are you going to get there? And who’s registered for the NCLN Student Dinner?!
Summer: What should the leaders be doing to prepare for the fall? (club meeting, workshops with NCLN, fundraising letters, pro-life reading)
Fall semester: What worked well in the past? What are some ideas for next year and how will you accomplish them?
Club days, university welcome BBQ’s/orientation days: How will you have a pro-life presence at these events?
NCLN Symposium: Who will you send?
Remember: NCLN and your local Campus Coordinators are here to help with the transition! Be sure to be in touch! We can set up a phone call with you, Skype into a meeting and might even be able to come by in person.
Building a leadership team for your pro-life club can seem like a daunting task at first. The TWU Students for Life team has done a great job at developing a strong and active leadership and we asked their outgoing club president, Joanna Krawczynski, to share some of her wisdom with you.
And don’t forget that your NCLN staff members are here to help train and coach you as you lead your club! NCLN’s Western office, which happens to be located in Langley B.C. as well, has been able to work a lot with the club at TWU and it’s been exciting to see the fruits of that relationship.
Note: Trinity Western University is a Christian university, which changes the context in which the club operates.
This post is part of a series that highlights the efforts, strategies and accomplishments of clubs across Canada. If there is something your club might like to share with the Pro-Life Student Movement of Canada, email firstname.lastname@example.org
As TWUSFL president, what part of your role excites you the most?
The team. I get to hang out with some of the most inspiring and talented people on campus.
What are your greatest challenges as a president?
Self-confidence. It’s ironic that I would be my biggest challenge, but I’ve noticed that if I’m feeling down or fearful during a meeting, my team picks up on those feelings and reflects my discouragement. Discouragement, to say the least, is very counterproductive.
Your club meets on a weekly basis. What fruits have you seen from this commitment?
Number one: commitment! Simply put, how things work at TWU, those who do not show up to meetings are not active on campus. Those who make the meetings are more easily roped into volunteering for things :). Also, delegation is a bit easier face-to-face. Another benefit to weekly meetings is the opportunity for team-building so that team members see each other not just as yoke-fellows but as friends: that’s the ideal. Further, weekly meetings serve to keep our focus clear, serving as a consistent reminder of who we are and what (or who) we stand for.
Again, this comes back to commitment: weekly meetings are a reminder that being pro-life doesn’t just happen once a year. If we want real change, we need pro-life work to be built into our regular schedules. For us, weekly meetings have also been a great opportunity to challenge, encourage, and refresh team members. It’s good to come together and realize – oh yeah, I’m not alone on the frontlines.
What does a club meeting agenda usually look like?
Welcome and prayer
Checking in with team members on a personal level: this usually involves a creative activity, like a round of telephone pictionary to share weekend stories or having members choose a random office supply to describe how they are feeling. (~15 min.)
Club updates or a brief discussion of relevant current events (~10 min.)
Debrief of recent event, preparation for an upcoming event, or brainstorming of a new event (~20 min.)
Flexible space for questions or comments: allowing team members to share ideas or concerns that they’ve been wrestling with (eg. Had a difficult conversation with a friend that didn’t go over very well – what could I have done?). (~10 min.)
Closing activity/thought/video, if time permits, depending on what team members need most: if the team is feeling disillusioned, maybe a motivational quote is in order. If team members are getting caught up in school stresses, a gentle challenge by way of a video is helpful. (~5 min.)
Sharing prayer requests and closing with prayer
Also, food is always appreciated, at any point during the meeting – even little, relatively inexpensive snacks like a bag of oranges or chocolate-covered nuts, unless you’ve got allergies.
In what ways do you foster good relationships among your team members?
Probably first and foremost by setting an example of deep respect for others which sets the tone of the meeting. Also, some of my team members don’t see each other outside team meetings, so it is important to provide space in team meetings for genuine relationships to be built (eg. by establishing prayer partners). I’d also like to incorporate off-campus club events, such as a team brunch or dessert night, into our schedules: this would also facilitate relationship-building, as we can build friendships that are not dependent on weekly meetings.
If you could give one tip to other pro-life club presidents, what would it be?
Have the courage to be humble. One article explains that having true humility is not being trampled like an old rug: rather, being humble means being unafraid to share truth or to spend time with those who are not quite your type: you aren’t worried about souring your reputation. Being humble means to persevere, to keep on keeping on, even though you know you can’t save lives with only your own two arms. This can be frustrating, realizing that you can’t do it all yourself, but sometimes feeling very alone.
But you are not doing this alone. You are part of a team: being courageously humble also means asking for help when you need help. Don’t let angry people extinguish your courage or the courage of your teammates. Invest in each member (eg. take time to write interesting emails, ask them how they’re doing, check in with them if you haven’t seen them for a while). Courage can be highly contagious. Use that to your advantage. And know that, over here at TWU, we’re praying for you and your teams. Stand firm!
Thank you, Joanna, for your genuine dedication to the pro-life movement and your investment in your club members at TWU. You are truly forming leaders by your own beautiful example of leadership!