Daily Archives: September 6, 2012

Challenging Animal Rights Groups at Student Orientation Week

As another academic year begins many animal rights groups will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of attracting dozens of new members during the Student Orientation Week (Freshers’ Week in the UK) at their local university. Brightly coloured stalls with free gifts, vegan food and animal rights literature will appear on university campuses world-wide.

“Would you like a leaflet?”

The average response from scientists is this:


..do nothing and walk away muttering about anti-scientific madness. The result? The students manning the stall spend their entire day with only positive messages coming in from students who know little about the importance of animals in medical research.

It’s time to burst the bubble.

Go up to them, politely point out that:

  • without animal research the asthma inhaler in their hand would not be in existence
  • the leaflet in their hand is full of inaccuracies, not least that there are no alternatives that can completely replace animal research
  • the pictures on their stall are in no way representative of the true extent of animal welfare legislation
  • they look healthy – have they considered how vaccines (given to them and those they meet) have helped them remain so

Make sure you are polite and calm but assertive in what you are saying – it should at least give them something to mull over.

Of course you could go to the next stage and come up with a stall of your own:

Pro-Test at Oxford University Freshers’ Fair in 2008

I found a blog post from Pro-Test’s Freshers’ Fair stall from 2007

Pro-Test Success at Freshers’ Fair

Well over 700 individuals signed their support to Animal Research and th new Oxford Biomedical Facility at Freshers’ Fair over 3 days, making Pro-Test one of the most successful stalls at the event. Pro-test would like to thank everyone who signed, and the hundreds who added that they would like to get involved in the campaign. It was pleasing to see the odd double take, with people walking past before stopping with “…wait – did you say FOR animal research – give me a pen”.

The mass signups suggest a strong turnout to come at February’s march – and we look forward to seeing all those who signed, and more, at the rally. Generally it was great to see so much positivity surrounding our presence at Freshers’ Fair.


and one year later (2008):

Students at Freshers’ Fair show they are “Pro-Test”

The success of the Pro-Test stall at Freshers’ Fair shows once again that students are in support of the lifesaving animal research and the new Oxford Biomedical Facility. This builds on the success of Pro-Test at the last Freshers’ Fair, as well as the OUSU referendum in 2006, in which over 90% of students voted to support animal research and new lab.

This year the Pro-Test stall proved to be an enourmous success, with well over 700 signatures in a petition of support. Pro-test would like to thank everyone who signed, and the hundreds who added that they would like to get involved in the campaign. It was pleasing to see not just science students, but also art and social science students rushing over to sign up and show support for a cause that has obviously appealed to a wide cross-section of the university.

After seeing partner organisations being established overseas, including in the United States this year, it was great to see that this issue continues to enjoy huge support in the city where the original campaign was launched. No doubt this success predicts another exciting year ahead for Pro-Test and the hundreds of new members eager to get involved.


James Burgess

So please keep us updated about the locations of animal rights groups on your campus, and make sure not to stay silent.