by Katie Daniels
Last Tuesday, students walking into Mac slowed down to examine a new addition to the crowded cafeteria lobby. The Boston College Pro-Life Club, along with the group Students for Life of America, had organized an interactive poll and poster display that asked students to answer one question: when do they think human rights begin?
Student volunteers from the Pro-Life Club, along with the New England coordinator from SFLA, set up a poster that showed sonogram images of unborn babies at different stages of development. The volunteers then asked passersby to vote, based on the information presented and their own beliefs, on when they think that a person deserves basic human rights.
Margo Borders, the Pro-Life Club Co-President, explained that the purpose of the display was “To get students thinking about human rights, especially in regards to applying them to children inside the womb.” The display, which the SFLA website advertises as “thought-provoking, long after students have viewed it and voted,” avoids graphic images or critical language on purpose. Instead, the display is designed to present a scientific account of how human life develops and, from that information, ask students to consider when human rights should start.
The Pro-Life Club’s usual activities include bringing pro-life speakers to campus, organizing a trip to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., and the popular “Pro-Life Cupcake Day” every October. The “When Do Human Rights Begin?” display is a new initiative, one designed to resonate with students long after the poster comes down.
“Even if we didn’t change many people’s minds, we were successful in motivating people to start thinking about the issue,” Borders says. “It was most interesting to see students take the poll, because in reading the different stages of [development], many students paused in thought, and had to contemplate the issue more deeply.”
Volunteers at the display noted the challenges that came with this new form of outreach. "Trying to pass out fliers was a little difficult, because most people are either ignoring you or judging you,” said Alex Gum CSOM ’18. Bianca Pasero, a freshman in the Pro-Life Club, agreed, saying that reaching out to students was harder that she thought. “We got many “no's”, awkward eye contact, and more BC look aways than I could count.”
Still, the student volunteers agree that starting a conversation on campus made the initial awkwardness worthwhile. “Many people had their beliefs and answered right away,” Pasero commented. “[But] many others were indecisive. They looked perplexed and just stared at the screen. Some even left without answering the question of when do human rights begin, because they didn't know. The hope was to make people think about and further discussion about a topic people typically aren't thinking about, and it worked!”
Based on the conversations the volunteers had with students, both at the display and in class afterwards, the club sees the display as a success. “It is important to get people talking, to make these things a conversation rather than an argument,” Gum concluded.