The student population at Southern Methodist University is getting an education outside of the classroom thanks to a new vegetarian group led by Audrey Archer. Archer, an Environmental Science/Biology major at SMU, received firsthand training in animal rights advocacy as an intern with Mercy For Animal’s Texas office during the summer of 2010. There, she learned effective advocacy techniques from seasoned pros such as Eddie Garza and other passionate volunteers at MFA’s various events.
Eager to apply what she learned as an intern for MFA, Audrey set her sights on creating an organization at SMU that would concentrate on educating the campus on vegetarian issues such as animal rights, health, and the environment. After gauging student interest by starting a Facebook page in October of 2010, Audrey quickly realized there were many people with a similar vision. They moved forward with becoming an “official” student group at SMU and thus Vegetarians Taking Action (VTA) was born.
As it turns out, creating a new student group is no easy task. After electing a Vice President (Jonathan Moore) and Treasurer (Jennifer Smith), the group set out to achieve its first milestone of gaining “probationary” status, which essentially means the group exists, but must show promise that it will benefit the university community in a way differently from any existing student organizations. In addition, groups must host events and other student activities to promote their cause. Luckily, that’s what Vegetarians Taking Action is all about.
VTA hosted their first on-campus event in January – a “Pay-Per-Video” outreach which paid students one dollar for watching a short video on animal rights issues aimed at raising awareness of the topic (photos). Since then, VTA has continued to host events on campus in an effort to spread the word about all the benefits of vegetarianism to the SMU student body.
Effective Advocacy Workshop
Vegetarian Taking Action’s latest event, the Effective Advocacy workshop (Tuesday, March 22), is aimed at those who may already be vegetarian or vegan and want to learn how they can create positive changes for animals. The event will feature Jon Camp from Vegan Outreach, a nationally-renowned animal advocate who has distributed vegan literature to over 650,000 students across the country. Mr. Camp will discuss the power of leafleting and why it can have such an impact. In addition, Sylvia Elzafon, the new Texas Campaign Coordinator for Mercy For Animals, will explain how our food choices have the power to change the world for the better. This event will also include a screening of Farm To Fridge, Mercy For Animals’ powerful new video that documents the cruelty routinely endured by animals on factory farms and slaughterhouses.
VTA is certainly on the fast track to becoming an officially chartered organization on the SMU campus, but they’ve already proven themselves as an important component to raising the awareness of animal rights issues in the young student population at SMU. Dallas Vegan applauds the efforts of Audrey Archer and the rest of the VTA organization for the amazing job they have done for vegetarianism thus far and the great work we see from them in the future.