Reducing Animal Suffering through Student Action

Changemaker Catalyst Award recipient Patricia Garcia attended a Campus Outreach Conference in August 2018 for her position this academic year as a Campus Organizer with The Humane League. Patricia is a Senior at Tulane University, double majoring in Sociology and Environment Studies, with a minor in Latin American Studies.

As a vegan for over four years, I have participated in animal advocacy work throughout my entire college career. I strongly believe in creating a world that values animals as more than commodities. I also believe in starting where you are, with your community, to address a social issue. As a Campus Organizer for The Humane League, I will work this year to engage students on animal welfare issues. At The Humane League’s three-day Campus Outreach Conference, I was given the opportunity to learn how to be a more effective student activist for animals and exercise those skills at Tulane.

Patricia holding the binder from the conference filled with information on how to be an effective animal activist.

With a focus on reforming the treatment of animals in factory farms, The Humane League advocates for animal welfare. During the conference, I learned about why animal welfare campaigns are so powerful. While promoting keeping animals off our plates is truly invaluable, the reality is that the world is not going to go completely vegan or vegetarian overnight. Animals are currently suffering every day, so it is equally as important to work toward improving their lives and wellbeing right now. These incremental changes will ultimately be stepping stones to a larger goal. I discovered the multitude of ways that we as consumers can put pressure on corporations to make a positive change for animals through their policies. We have the ability to voice our concerns through letters, emails, phone calls, protests, and more. For instance, as young people, most of us utilize social media regularly for our personal use. Social media can also be a tool for social action; this can be as simple as posting a comment on a company’s photograph or tweeting out information about a campaign. These small actions, when done collectively, impact companies and create a sense of urgency to adapt.

Learning about corporate campaigns from the President of The Humane League, David Coman-Hidy.

Being surrounded by so many inspirational students from across the country with similar ideals and goals is something I will always cherish. There were students who had just turned vegan a few months ago, others who had to take on the task of starting a new school organization, and some who were returning organizers with three years of activism under their belts. They all had something insightful to share. Through individual and group work, I was able to envision plans and ideas for the upcoming school year as well as receive feedback from my peers. In addition, our mentors also presented lectures encompassing different aspects of being a successful organizer such as intersectionality, self-care, and grassroots outreach. This shared community lit a fire within me that I had not felt in a long time. I realized that connecting with like-minded people working toward a common mission can be one of the greatest motivators to action.

Patricia with fellow organizers she met at the conference.

After attending this training, I am confident in my ability to bring back to Tulane all that I learned about being an organizer. I feel more passionate about the movement than I ever have because I know that we can make a real difference in the lives of animals and will continue to acquire the tools to do so. I now have the skills and resources to communicate an impactful message for animals.  Together, we can imagine a world where animals no longer suffer unnecessarily and actively work to create it.