National Campus Life Network > Blog > Guelph Life Choice

An Inside Look at a Flag Display… and a Cannon

By Clarissa Canaria, Central Campus Coordinator

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join Life Choice, the pro-life club at the University of Guelph, in a flag display on campus. A total of 10,000 pink and blue flags, each representing 10 of the 100,000 abortions that happen in our country each year, were displayed in the middle of campus.

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Flag displays are a project of WeNeedALaw.ca

Not only is this display a powerful witness, but so is the amazing efforts of the pro-life students who kept guard of their event over 36hrs in advance in order to put on the display! As the Campus Coordinator for Ontario campuses, I had the privilege of joining these students and witnessed their dedication first hand, gaining an in-depth look at the challenges they faced and overcame, supporting them throughout the event.

 

In brief:

  • On Thanksgiving Monday club members camped out (tent and all) on their campus in order to secure the cannon for Wednesday’s event. The cannon is a unique fixture to Guelph that students can paint. The one simple cannon law: it can only be painted at night. But in order to ensure they could paint the cannon Tuesday night, the students stood guard by it for over a day in advance!
  • Late Tuesday evening they placed the flags, and painted the school cannon by the display. 
  • On Wednesday students spent the day engaging in thoughtful dialogue with their fellow students about the lack of abortion law in Canada.

These students did all this, despite having assignments, midterms, and classes.

The cannon: before the display, and then after being defaced by protesters (top photo courtesy of M. Perera).

This display elicited a variety of emotions from people; many of whom were hurting from having experience or involvement with abortions themselves. Some responded by defacing the cannon. Others attempted to sabotage the display, throwing coat hangers and pro-choice signs into the flag display.  All of these acts were further proof to me of the critical need  for this message on campus.  For, sadly, university students are the demographic most vulnerable to abortion.

I spoke to one young man who was very upset, stating, “You people are terrible. This [display] is just wrong.” After telling him that I’d be happy to talk to him and hear why he thought this, he went on to say that sometimes “there is no other choice” than abortion. We spent a couple of minutes in respectful discussion. He shared that he had his own personal experience with abortion; his hurt was evident as he said it was one of the most difficult things he had to do. I thanked him for sharing with me, and although we essentially disagreed on the humanity of the preborn child and their equal

right to life, I am certain he saw that I valued our conversation and him as a human being.  What started off as an angry conversation on his end, ended in a calm and respectful manner as he matched my attitude towards him.

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Check out Life Choice on Facebook and Instagram (@lifechoiceuofg)!

The many fruits of this day are by no means captured in this one post. Many conversations were had, dozens of resources were distributed, club members  were encouraged and moved by the support they received, and many more people at the University of Guelph have now seen the magnitude of abortion in our country.

The students of Life Choice, and the many other pro-life student activists NCLN supports, are making sacrifices every day to defend the lives of preborn children and affirm the value of every human life (although few have gone to the extent of camping in a tent, as did these students!) Why do they make these sacrifices?

Because they know that human rights are for all human beings, and both the mother and her preborn child deserve better than abortion.

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If you’re interested in having this flag display on your campus, click here!

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CAMPUS SPOTLIGHT: Guelph Life Choice

No matter the size of your campus or of your pro-life club, recruiting, retaining and engaging your members remains a critical part of a vibrant and effective pro-life campus group. It is, after all, through the efforts of members that clubs are able to reach their campuses: at events, on the sidewalks, at the club fairs, in the classrooms and in extracurriculars.

The staff of NCLN are available to offer training to help with recruitment as well as to regularly mentor club leaders to improve their membership engagement, but sometimes the best way to learn is from the example of other clubs. We’ve seen Guelph Life Choice dramatically improve their membership engagement and development of club leaders over the past months and we asked Celine Mammoliti, president, and Meagan Nijenhuis, vice-president, to share how they went about this.

 This post also marks the start 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 kathleen@ncln.ca

Q: On our first campus visit, you both seemed quite disheartened in terms of membership engagement. We’ve seen so much energy since. What changed? 

Meagan: We got a lot of engagement at the Club Days booth [at the beginning of September]. From there we found a meeting time that worked for the majority and stuck to the same room and time every week. Then Celine sent out a weekly newsletter which included a reminder and I texted everyone the day of. [At meetings] Celine would do an educational Prezi [presentation] and we’d hash out what was coming up as well as have some incredible discussions! When we did special events we did different times so members who can’t always make it could help out there!

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Clarissa and Rebecca with Meaghan and Celine during September’s Clubs Days

 Celine: Gaining new members and seeing how great they are always helps! We have a great team of people and they are all wonderful. Having these people around really helps when you feel isolated on campus, which can happen very easily. It also gives us hope for the future of the club. Also, having NCLN there really helps keep us going when we’re struggling. 

Q: Sometimes people feel that they either need to be focusing on recruiting and forming their members OR outreach, as if they should be happening separately. Your club has brought them together. Why is that? 

Meagan: You need people to be practicing their apologetics as they learn. It’s like Confucius says, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” There’s always more our club members can be learning! We can continue to grow as we reach out and teach our campus WHY the fetus is a human and why humans have value. We can’t let the semesters slip by without at least giving our fellow students some access to the truth.

 Celine: I would say that it’s always more effective to do both, because that is the real meaning of community. We want to show not only our members, but also other students that we care about building community, and that involves both building up your current members and reaching out to others. People are more likely to have a positive view of the group if they can feel a sense of community. 

Note: Putting into practice (outreach) what your members are learning is key. 

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Q: What would you say were the three most important things that you did to help increase 

your membership AND your outreach?

Meagan:

1)    Our weekly Prezi presentations;

2)    Chalking in heavy traffic areas on campus;

3)    And getting to know our members and keeping in contact with them through the week.

Celine:

1)    One thing we did, which we learned from NCLN, was to be persistent and keep in touch with members personally. It makes a huge difference to them, and it only takes a few moments to do.

2)    Another thing is to focus on the efforts of our members, and continue to encourage them.  It’s important to acknowledge every single contribution, no matter how big or small.

3)    Thirdly, we’ve been working on our communications with other university groups so that we can build a positive image on campus. What is most important about this is to meet with people face to face, and build connections. By doing this, we can reduce fear and assumptions about our club, and be more productive. 

Q: What main piece of advice would you like to share with other pro-life groups across Canada?

Meagan: Get to know your members! They’ll feel more involved in the club and be more likely to help you out with events. 

Celine: Hang in there! Sometimes it is really hard to be part of such a controversial movement, but in the end it will be worth it. Stick together, work hard, and have fun. And never forget that you’re not alone in this! 

Keep up the awesome work, Guelph Life Choice! We can’t wait to see what this new semester brings!

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Winners for the 2013-2014 Pro-Life Club Grant Announced

Congratulations Guelph Life Choice and Western Lifeline!

Guelph Life Choice and Western Lifeline, the pro-life clubs at Guelph University and the University of Western Ontario, are the proud recipients of the 2013-2014 Pro-Life Club Grants. These grants, with $750 being awarded to each club, are made possible by The Interim newspaper and Niagara Region Right to Life, and are facilitated by National Campus Life Network.

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Western Lifeline taking part in 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil

“Pro-life university students face a lot of challenges as they work to bring the pro-life message to their campuses,” said Rebecca Richmond, NCLN’s Executive Director. “The generosity of The Interim and Niagara Region Right to Life helps support and encourage students and also provides financial support to fund their activities.” 

The purpose of the grant is to recognize the work of pro-life clubs and assist them in their efforts on campuses.  Club members submit applications outlining the activities they plan to run on campus, with the goal being to effectively reach and impact the campus with the pro-life message.

This year’s winners are thrilled to be the recipients of the grant. Life Choice at Guelph’s plan for the coming semester includes hosting the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. They also hope to initiate a new project of creating care packages with key items for expectant and new moms on campus; these packages will be available through student support services. 

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Guelph Life Choice during Clubs Day with Rebecca and Clarissa

“We are so excited to implement our plans in the winter semester,” says club Vice-President Meagan Nijenhuis. “During the fall semester we were able to build a strong foundation for our pro life group, and we are so proud of all our members.”

“We will continue to grow and learn, and together we will do whatever we can to bring awareness to our campus,” continued club President Celine Mammoliti. “This grant will definitely help us with our goal to successfully provide alternative options on a campus that generally fails to give women real choices.”

Western Lifeline, located in London Ontario, is focused on an upcoming debate between Dr. Fraser Fellows, an abortionist, and Maaike Rosendal  of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Carolyn Murray, president of the club, stated, “Western Lifeline is extremely thankful to be awarded the grant. Our hopes to host a professional debate on campus – the largest event of the year – are now possible, as we strive to reach even more university students with the pro-life message.”

As a busy fall semester draws to a close, it is evident that the spring semester has a great deal of exciting activism in store. 

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Press Release: Ontario students want abortion debate but abortion advocates unwilling to defend their position

March 14, 2012: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ontario students want abortion debate but abortion advocates unwilling to defend their position

Toronto, ON: This March, two Ontario university clubs are hosting abortion debates on campus, but pro-choicers have been unwilling to debate.  Despite contacting over 120 professors, feminist organizations, and abortion advocacy groups, Guelph Life Choice and McMaster Lifeline have been unable to find anyone willing to debate.  Pro-life students from McMaster and Guelph are now issuing a public challenge to pro-choice proponents (specifically professors, doctors, clinic workers, and advocates from pro-choice organizations), inviting them to defend their position on abortion and join in an open and respectful debate.

“There’s been great student interest in having this debate,” states Hanna Barlow, President of the University of Guelph Life Choice.  “But everyone we’ve contacted to represent the pro-choice side has either rejected the invitation or simply ignored it.  It’s very disappointing.”

With the debate scheduled for the end of the month, Guelph Life Choice contacted the Student Help and Advocacy Centre (SHAC) from the student union for help finding a pro-choice advocate.  They declined, stating, “We do not believe that the sexual and reproductive rights of women is [sic] something that should be debated because we see ‘pro-choice’ as the only option. For us, reproductive rights are non-debatable.” (See full email text at: http://uofguelphlifechoice.ncln.ca/2012/03/14/email/)

“Unwillingness to debate is something we’ve seen before on other campuses,” states Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director for the National Campus Life Network, a national pro-life student organization.   “Despite accusations from pro-choicers that we’re closed minded and backwards, they are the ones who keep rejecting our offers to engage in dialogue.”

“Anyone who holds a belief on an issue must have evidence to back up their belief,” states Julia Bolzon, President of McMaster Lifeline.  “If pro-choicers are confident in their position, then they should be willing to defend it in a debate.  We hope pro-choicers will rise to the challenge.”

 

For more information or for those interested in representing the pro-choice side of the debate, contact:

Julia Bolzon – President McMaster Lifeline, 647 221 0912, jbolzon@gmail.com

Hanna Barlow – President Guelph Life Choice, 519 830 9072, hannabarlow@gmail.com

Rebecca Richmond – Executive Director, National Campus Life Network, 416 388 0461 director@ncln.ca

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University of Guelph Life Choice: Email from Student Help and Advocacy Centre

This post was written for University of Guelph Life Choice by University of Guelph Life Choice. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

This is the response from the Student Help and Advocacy Centre, after Hanna Barlow, President of Guelph Life Choice, requested their help in finding someone to represent the pro-choice position in the March 27th debate.

 Hi Hannah,

Thank you for contacting the Student Help and Advocacy Centre (SHAC) at the Central Student Association (CSA). Unfortunately, SHAC is unwilling to participate in this kind of debate due to our "Declaration of Rights of the Woman Student" policy from the CSA that I have copied and pasted below. We do not believe that the sexual and reproductive rights of women is something that should be debated because we see "pro-choice" as the only option. For us, reproductive rights are non-debatable. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to e-mail shacedu@uoguelph.ca.

Regards,

Alexandra Holtom
-----------------------------------------
Education and Events Coordinator
Student Help and Advocacy Centre
University Centre Level 2
University of Guelph
______________________________________________

4.2 DECLARATION OF RIGHTS OF THE WOMAN STUDENT

The Central Student Association endorses and will work to enact the following Declaration of Rights of the Woman Students:

1. All women have the right to freedom of choice of lifestyle, employment and education as full and equal participants in Canadian society.

2. All women have the right to access to post-secondary education.

3. All women have the right to employment, and the right to equal opportunity to employment with equal pay for work of equal value.

4. All women have the right of access to quality, fully government subsidized child care, provided by adequately trained and paid child care workers, since access to education is limited by lack thereof.

5. The right to a financial student assistance program which meets the needs of full-time, part-time, and single parent students, the majority of whom are women, and which does not require dependence on their parents or spouse.

6. The right to concrete programs for re-entry of women into post-secondary education to aid women in overcoming the barriers of interrupted studies and inadequate backgrounds.

7. The right to academic counseling which informs women of all educational and employment opportunities available in order to actively combat streaming of women into traditional fields.

8. The right of women students to organize since women’s organizations within the student movement are necessary to actively raise the issues faced by women students, to provide a place for women to develop organizational and political skills and to provide a forum where women can develop a sense of unity and co-operation.

9. The right of women students to a students’ union which recognizes, promotes and funds a women’s organization on campus to facilitate involvement in women’s issues.

10. The right to an education through non-sexist instruction, textbooks and materials, recognizing that some literature and materials must be viewed relative to their historical or social context but that all instruction, contemporary textbooks and materials should be free of sexual stereotyping and discrimination.

11. The right to an educational environment free of advertisement , entertainment programming and/or materials which promote violence against women, sexual stereotyping and discrimination.

12. The right to government-funded women’s studies courses in post-secondary institutions.

13. The fundamental right of all women to control their bodies:

a) access to safe, reliable birth control and family planning information and the right of choice in the method;

b) freedom of choice choosing one’s stance in the matter of abortion;

c) access to quality health services and counseling which meet the needs of women students and respect a woman’s control of her body;

d) freedom of expression of sexual orientation;

e) freedom from sexual assault and all other forms of violence.

14. The right to an educational environment free of sexual harassment.

15. The right to effective, legal and academic grievance procedures recognized by students, faculty and support staff.

16. The right to celebrate International Women’s Day on campus.

(January 1994)

Read the comments at the University of Guelph Life Choice website.

McMaster Lifeline: Press Release: Ontario students want abortion debate but abortion advocates unwilling to defend their position

This post was written for McMaster Lifeline by McMaster Lifeline. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

March 14, 2012: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ontario students want abortion debate but abortion advocates unwilling to defend their position

Toronto, ON: This March, two Ontario university clubs are hosting abortion debates on campus, but pro-choicers have been unwilling to debate.  Despite contacting over 120 professors, feminist organizations, and abortion advocacy groups, Guelph Life Choice and McMaster Lifeline have been unable to find anyone willing to debate.  Pro-life students from McMaster and Guelph are now issuing a public challenge to pro-choice proponents (specifically professors, doctors, clinic workers, and advocates from pro-choice organizations), inviting them to defend their position on abortion and join in an open and respectful debate.

“There’s been great student interest in having this debate,” states Hanna Barlow, President of the University of Guelph Life Choice.  “But everyone we’ve contacted to represent the pro-choice side has either rejected the invitation or simply ignored it.  It’s very disappointing.”

With the debate scheduled for the end of the month, Guelph Life Choice contacted the Student Help and Advocacy Centre (SHAC) from the student union for help finding a pro-choice advocate.  They declined, stating, “We do not believe that the sexual and reproductive rights of women is [sic] something that should be debated because we see ‘pro-choice’ as the only option. For us, reproductive rights are non-debatable.” (See full email text at: http://uofguelphlifechoice.ncln.ca/2012/03/14/email/)

“Unwillingness to debate is something we’ve seen before on other campuses,” states Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director for the National Campus Life Network, a national pro-life student organization.   “Despite accusations from pro-choicers that we’re closed minded and backwards, they are the ones who keep rejecting our offers to engage in dialogue.”

“Anyone who holds a belief on an issue must have evidence to back up their belief,” states Julia Bolzon, President of McMaster Lifeline.  “If pro-choicers are confident in their position, then they should be willing to defend it in a debate.  We hope pro-choicers will rise to the challenge.”

 

For more information or for those interested in representing the pro-choice side of the debate, contact:

Julia Bolzon – President McMaster Lifeline, 647 221 0912, jbolzon@gmail.com

Hanna Barlow – President Guelph Life Choice, 519 830 9072, hannabarlow@gmail.com

Rebecca Richmond – Executive Director, National Campus Life Network, 416 388 0461 director@ncln.ca

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Read the comments at the McMaster Lifeline website.

U of G Life Choice: Press Release: Ontario students want abortion debate but abortion advocates unwilling to defend their position

This post was written for U of G Life Choice by U of G Life Choice. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

March 14, 2012: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ontario students want abortion debate but abortion advocates unwilling to defend their position

Toronto, ON: This March, two Ontario university clubs are hosting abortion debates on campus, but pro-choicers have been unwilling to debate.  Despite contacting over 120 professors, feminist organizations, and abortion advocacy groups, Guelph Life Choice and McMaster Lifeline have been unable to find anyone willing to debate.  Pro-life students from McMaster and Guelph are now issuing a public challenge to pro-choice proponents (specifically professors, doctors, clinic workers, and advocates from pro-choice organizations), inviting them to defend their position on abortion and join in an open and respectful debate.

“There’s been great student interest in having this debate,” states Hanna Barlow, President of the University of Guelph Life Choice.  “But everyone we’ve contacted to represent the pro-choice side has either rejected the invitation or simply ignored it.  It’s very disappointing.”

With the debate scheduled for the end of the month, Guelph Life Choice contacted the Student Help and Advocacy Centre (SHAC) from the student union for help finding a pro-choice advocate.  They declined, stating, “We do not believe that the sexual and reproductive rights of women is [sic] something that should be debated because we see ‘pro-choice’ as the only option. For us, reproductive rights are non-debatable.”

“Unwillingness to debate is something we’ve seen before on other campuses,” states Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director for the National Campus Life Network, a national pro-life student organization.   “Despite accusations from pro-choicers that we’re closed minded and backwards, they are the ones who keep rejecting our offers to engage in dialogue.”

“Anyone who holds a belief on an issue must have evidence to back up their belief,” states Julia Bolzon, President of McMaster Lifeline.  “If pro-choicers are confident in their position, then they should be willing to defend it in a debate.  We hope pro-choicers will rise to the challenge.”

 

For more information or for those interested in representing the pro-choice side of the debate, contact:

Julia Bolzon – President McMaster Lifeline, 647 221 0912, jbolzon@gmail.com

Hanna Barlow – President Guelph Life Choice, 519 830 9072, hannabarlow@gmail.com

Rebecca Richmond – Executive Director, National Campus Life Network, 416 388 0461 director@ncln.ca

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Read the comments at the U of G Life Choice website.