This year, San Diego State has gained a new club on campus called Student Action for Animals. Its primary goal is to inform the student body about animal rights and to promote animal welfare. SDSU sophomores Rochelle Terman and Amber Neukum are co-presidents and co-founders of the club.
Student Action for Animals not only wants to inform students about animal welfare, but also about “what is going on in the animal industry; whether it be circuses, factory farms, SeaWorld, things that are going on locally and anything that is happening on a bigger level,” Terman said.
The founders initially started the club because they noticed there wasn’t a visible community on campus for animal-rights enthusiasts.
“We know that there was one a couple of years ago but it just dwindled away. We knew that there would be some kind of interest in animal welfare and protesting,” Neukum said.
According to the founders, the club is not meant to make others feel uncomfortable, but instead to provide its members and nonmembers with information about vegetarianism or veganism, how society treats animals and how students can make a difference in promoting animal rights.
SAA works with various organizations such as the Animal Protection and Rescue League, PETA, peta2 and Born Free USA.
It intends to create a fun, informal atmosphere within the club, making their meetings casual and laidback. The club promotes interactivity and wants to provide its members with a friendly atmosphere, where each member can comfortably contribute ideas.
At each weekly meeting, Neukum and Terman will be focusing on one particular topic, such as the history of how humans have viewed animals, from early history to present day. They want members to speak freely and express their beliefs in an environment where they do not have to worry about feeling uncomfortable or alienated.
Not only will the group be teaching its members the history of animal welfare, but it will also have them participate in peaceful protests in San Diego.
On Feb. 18, SAA joined PETA to peacefully protest in front of SeaWorld. They held signs and passed out flyers in an attempt to “educate people on why it’s bad to have animals in captivity.”
“It is inhuman to have whales not swimming nearly as much as they would if they were in the wild,” Neukum said. “Whales swim about 300 miles a day, and when they are in a tank nose to tail, you can see how that would be an issue for the whale. It cuts their life in half and people need to know what’s happening right in our own backyard. It’s a perfect opportunity for students to go and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Terman and Neukum recently teamed up with peta2 to incorporate more vegan and vegetarian foods in on-campus dining options. They received 2,000 signatures and are now waiting to present the idea to SDSU’s Dining Services.
“We have gotten a lot more positive reactions that negative reactions,” Terman said.
Neukum said it is a “huge move for vegan and vegetarian students to have more options, or even just for people who want to have more healthy food options available on campus.”