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"Within The Catholic Worker, there...was early criticism that we were taking on `rotten lumber that would sink the ship.' `Derelict' was the term used most often. As though Jesus did not come to live with the lost, to save the lost, to show them the way." - Dorothy Day, February 1959.
Your group's resources are those things and people you have to work with. Let there be no doubt but that people are a much more important resource than things. This chapter gives ideas for materials and other resources that your right-to-life might want to develop.
These are some suggestions for internal resources that your group can create and build upon.
The Group Library. Every college right-to-life group should build a resource library. Your group should make an effort to acquire copies of books on the issues with which you are concerned: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, hunger, over-population (often a reason given by "campus intellectuals" for advocating various forms of "people-cide"), handicaps, etc. Some good books can be purchased from your local right-to-life organizations, for others you will have to go to bookstores, or write to the publishers. Your group should also subscribe to several periodicals: National Right to Life News, The Human Life Review, or ALL About Issues to suggest a few. If your group is large enough, you may want to appoint a group librarian to take care of book and periodical related duties. The librarian should devise a card catalog system for your books and periodicals and encourage your group members to read them. He should also keep track of who has borrowed books from your group's library.
Pamphlet Stocks. Having a stock of pamphlets will help your group respond quickly if, for example, you should suddenly hear that a pro-abortion speaker is talking on your campus tomorrow. Take care to select a variety of pamphlets and brochures that could be used for leafleting, picketing, or perhaps included in your mailings. Pamphlets can be purchased in quantity from many different pro-life organizations. On our campus, we have several pamphlet racks. I try to keep some of our group's materials in them all the time. These pamphlets should be for free distribution.
Keeping a stock of rose appliqués, buttons, bookmarks, booklets, and bumper stickers is another idea. Wearing pro-life symbols such as those tiny "fetal feet" helps one pro-lifer identify another, and starts many a discussion about abortion and the right to life. These usually have to be sold for what they cost you.
The Group Album. A photo album of your group's activities will help give your members a sense of your history. Photos can be incorporated with copies of old posters, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, etc., to assemble a scrap book. This will provide a quick way to introduce prospective members to your group. Color slides are also a good way to record events; they can in turn be used to develop a slide show to show off your group. Getting sharp photos requires a good photographer, and a budget for film and developing, but a snazzy slide-show is worth the investment in the long run.
An album is good for display at freshman orientation fairs, information tables, and so on. It also provides your with a source of photographs for your school's yearbook, newspaper, and for inclusion in press releases. Photos for press releases should always be glossy black-and-whites. This is the time to note that your group should always try to get good coverage in your school's yearbook. Talk to the editor: chances are good that he will welcome your efforts to cooperate with him and reward them with favorable coverage.
The Group Logo. A logo or group symbol can help build your group's identity. Your group's logo can combine pro-life symbols with your school's symbols to give your posters, signs, and letters a distinctive mark. Or you can get an art or design major in your group to create a more original logo. The design should be simple and attractive to make it eye-catching as well as easy to copy. It can be used on posters, banners, invitations, newsletters, anything your group sends out in writing.
Stationery. A professional-looking letterhead for your correspondence will help you convince those to whom you write to take you seriously. The letterhead should incorporate your logo, your group's address, telephone number, and perhaps the names and titles of Your group's officers and sponsors. Have stationery printed up on high quality paper if you can afford it, and have your group leaders use it in all serious communications. One way to cut costs here is to photocopy your letterhead onto some high-quality stock at one of those "quick copy" places for only a few cents a sheet: usually much cheaper than at a professional print shop.
Many college groups find a rubber address stamp useful for putting return addresses on envelopes or pamphlets quickly. The stamp could use your group's logo, too. Another possibility is to have return address labels printed.
Records. Notes, records and files may seem like a nuisance to keep up to date, but if they are properly handled, they can be an invaluable source of aid to those who will lead your group after you have graduated. All officers should be encouraged to keep notes and files on their activities and to turn these files over to the group when they graduate. But above all the group's secretary should try to keep as complete records as possible on the group's activities. Minutes should be prepared for all officers' and general meetings including attendance and all ideas suggested - even if the ideas are unused, they may provide your group with a source of ideas for activities in the future.
Descriptions of the programs your group attempts, along with honest evaluations of their effectiveness - both strong and weak points - can guide your group towards improving its effectiveness, as well as preventing a poor program from being repeated by those who come after you. Files should be kept on the various other right-to-life groups that you come into contact with, as well as on pro-abortion groups. All mail and correspondence should be filed, especially letters from politicians. You should have files on publicity, including newspaper articles and letters to the editor, that concerns your group. Also make it a point to clip any editorial or article that discusses a right-to-life issue. If old posters and newsletters from your group are saved they will provide ideas for future poster designs, as well as a record of group activities. These and other files that you keep can be an important source of ideas for your group in the years to come.
Records of donations given to the group are markedly important: someone who donates once to your group is likely to do so again, especially if asked. Lists of alumni and their current addresses also provide a resource for funds.
Storage. Storage of files, books, and other supplies can be a big problem for college right-to-life groups. Those that are lucky enough to be able to finagle an office on campus can, of course, store their files in cabinets in their office. If your group doesn't have an office, you can store your group's files in cabinets in your member's rooms. At Carnegie-Mellon, our group keeps its files in a filing cabinet in our president's dorm room and in some old milk crates in other member's rooms. Another possibility would be to find an unused janitor's closet in an academic hall or a dormitory and to ask for permission for your group to use it for storage.
Offices. If your group can manage to finagle an office somewhere on campus, you've arrived. An office is a great place to store supplies and hold meetings, but with a bit of imagination it can become much more. If you can get your members into the habit of stopping by the office each day it becomes a great place to leave messages or to meet informally. If you can equip it with a telephone you might be able to run a emergency pregnancy hot-line. Perhaps your officers could even keep regular office hours.
The Group "Home." No, I'm not talking about a place to send your old, tired pro-lifers, but rather a center of activities, a place that your group can call "home." Often the apartment or house of one of a group's officers becomes the place where cookies are baked for bake sales, signs are painted for the March for Life, officers' meetings are held, group parties are hosted, and members just "drop by to say `Hello.'" If one of your officers has an apartment or house near campus ask them to host your next group party. If members feel at home in his or her house they will feel at home in your group. The development of a group home is to be encouraged, maybe even deliberately planned for. Wouldn't things be a lot easier if several of your officers and members shared an apartment?
Computers. Never underestimate the power of a computer. Computers can also be very useful tools for the college pro-life group: they can be used to print address labels, help you keep your rosters updated, print out your newsletters and notices, edit text, write letters, and much, much more. In fact, this entire text was prepared with a computer text-editing system on a main-frame computer before there were many personal computers on the market. It would not be an overstatement to say that computers can be the hardest workers in your group. And today's PCs are much more powerful than the old main-frames. All you need is a member of your group who knows how to use them - something which is not too unusual these days. Check to see if your group can get an account on your school's computer systems, and use it for email and Internet access.
Group Speakers. Cultivating the public speaking talents of any members of your group who show an interest in becoming spokespersons for your group is helpful to both your group and the pro-life movement as a whole. Speakers should be articulate, cool, lucid, and well-informed. Sending a few of your members to a public speaking course is one way to help them along. Another way would be to give them opportunities to practice before your group.
This is a listing of on-campus resources which your group can cultivate.
Outreach Programs. Your group can develop a short program for outreach to other groups on your campus. This program should be designed with two motives in mind: to provide an enticing introduction to the pro-life view and to encourage interested students to join your group. It can consist of a film, a slide show, or a speaker; it does not have to be fancy. This program could be presented to religious groups, student government, college political groups, debate clubs, philosophical societies, etc. It is a way to reach out to the students in these groups.
Libraries. Check to see what books your school and local libraries have on abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and other life topics. All libraries have budgets for the acquisition of new books, and many will at least consider your suggestions for new purchases. Write to the librarian and give them the title, author, publisher, and date of publication for several of the "pro-life" books that the library does not have in its collection. You can also suggest periodicals, such as the National Right to Life News, or The Human Life Review. National Right to Life markets an excellent "library pack" of some of the best pro-life literature.
Rebecca Marshall of the University of Pittsburgh tells of lending out her group's entire euthanasia file to a friend who had to write a paper on both sides of the euthanasia issue for an ethics class and couldn't find anything against euthanasia in the school's libraries. In such a situation, a college right-to-life group might even resort to taking out ads in the school paper that say that their group has information for use in ethics and philosophy courses.
One member of your group should keep records of what books the various libraries in your area have on life topics. A listing of books on abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, mercy-killing, contraception, population control, biology, embryology, sexuality, politics, law, hunger, war and peace, physical and mental handicaps and a dozen other topics will be a useful resource for quickly answering the questions that will arise from time to time. How many abortions were there in your state last year? Who is your district's Congressman? When does a developing embryo first begin to feel pain? It helps to have the facts at your finger-tips.
Campus Counseling. Every college right-to-life group should take a long, hard look at their school's counseling and health centers. Do the counselors and doctors provide, at the very least, unbiased advice to pregnant students? Many college counseling staffs automatically refer pregnant women to abortion clinics for "additional counseling." There is tremendous pressure today put on the young, unwed mother-to-be to resort to abortion. You can insist that they give the pro-life emergency pregnancy services, such as Birthright or your local Crisis Pregnancy Center, equal time. Sending them at list of the phone numbers of referral organizations is a good way to start.
Maternity Loan Fund. A maternity loan fund is an amount of money set aside by the student government or administration of a college for the purpose of aiding students who get pregnant to shoulder the expenses of bearing the child. These women can take out interest-free loans for their medical expenses. Usually the money for the fund comes from some sort of student fee. Instituting such a fund takes a lot of planning and hard work, as well as a good strong publicity effort, but some schools have succeeded in establishing them - most notably Duke University. It is important to thwart any efforts to make the fund pay for abortions, too. Incidentally, some schools have medical insurance which covers the cost of abortions for students. Your group may be able to bring a halt to this practice and substitute a maternity loan fund.
This is a list of external resources which your group can develop and draw upon.
Other College Groups. Other college right-to-life groups can be valuable resources. Your officers should cultivate a close relationship with the officers of these groups, especially with those whose schools are close to your school. At Carnegie-Mellon University, we keep in close contact with the officers of Students for Life at the University of Pittsburgh, as well those of the groups at Duquesne University and Carlow College, which are all located within the city of Pittsburgh. Some of our students usually attend the activities they sponsor, and vice-versa. Your group might even consider forming a more formal coalition with other college groups. The key here is unity.
Other Pro-Life Groups. Your local, "regular" right-to-life groups, those that have broader adult memberships than just students, can be the most valuable resources your group can have. They have the speakers, films, pamphlets, contacts, members and money to help your group at almost every point.
Contacting and keeping in contact with other pro-life organizations is a primary responsibility of your group president. All of your officers should personally visit their offices and get to know their folks. Nothing tops person-to-person contact when two organizations are trying to cooperate. They will have the emergency pregnancy services that your group will probably not be able to provide. Find out what they have to offer.
Most pro-life groups can be an information resource for your group. Two nationally known groups that are especially good at provide detailed and accurate information are the Human Life Center at the University of Steubenville, Steubenville, OH 43952, (614) 283-3771, and Americans United for Life, 343 South Dearborn Street, Suite 1804, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 786-9494. The latter provides reliable information regarding legal questions.
In turn, you can be of great help to these adult right-to-life groups. You can provide the manpower to help them with their projects, and give them an "insider" on your campus. You provide a way for their speakers to talk on your college campus (for example, your group can reserve auditoriums on campus for their speakers). And most important of all, your group is a training ground which will produce well-educated pro-lifers for the future. Offer your them group's assistance.
State and National College Groups. The Intercollegiate Federation for Life (IFL) in Pennsylvania was formed to facilitate communication among the college groups across the state, to encourage the growth of new college groups, and to try to educate the leadership of these college groups. The IFL holds semi-annual conventions, and has been very successful at making the leaders of college groups all across the state familiar with each other. Your group should give serious thought to joining an organization like the IFL and sending delegates to its meetings.
Check to see whether or not your state has a similar organization. On the national level, there are organizations such as American Collegians for Life (ACL), and Collegians Activated to Liberate Life (CALL).
Religious Organizations. Local religious organizations can be very friendly to college groups. Most Roman Catholic dioceses, for instance, have a Pro-Life Office or an Office of Justice and Peace (it may go by other names). Other possibilities include Orthodox, Lutheran, Episcopal, and other religious groups, on both the diocesan and parish levels. Evangelical Protestant churches are often among the most friendly and helpful. Inquire among Orthodox Jewish and Moslem groups, too. Other possibilities include lay organizations such as the Knights of Columbus and the Knights of St. George. Contact these groups, find out what they are doing in respect to pro-life work, keep them informed as to what your group is doing, and do not be afraid to ask them for help if you need it, even monetary help.
Resource People. Your group should maintain several lists of resource people. One list should tell how to contact nationally known speakers such as Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Joseph Sobran, or the Dr. and Mrs. Willke. Often, you can get such information from your local pro-life organizations. A list of pro-life politicians, local as well as state and federal, can be maintained by your group. Pro-life celebrities, such as actors and actresses, can also be a resource. Do not forget lesser known "celebrities" such as local sports figures, authors, musicians, or newsmen. With a little bit of effort you may be able to convince even the busiest of these figures can be prevailed upon to help your group, especially if they should happen to be alumni of your school. Getting a U.S. Congressman to speak at your school, or the quarterback of a professional football team to be the Grand Marshal for your group's Marathon for Life could be a real coup d'etat for your group.
As mentioned earlier, when I first started working in the right-to-life movement I made it a practice to write a letter to every pro-life or pro-abortion organization I heard about, requesting information about the organization and asking to be put on their mailing list. True, I gave the pro-life organizations our group's address and the pro-abortion organizations my personal address, but this is a way to acquire information across the board on right-to-life issues.
Among the pro-life organizations that you can contact are: American Life League, the National Right to Life Committee, Feminists for Life, American Collegians for Life, the Michael Fund, Human Life International, and Collegians Activated to Liberate Life (CALL). Some pro-abortion organizations that you should keep an eye on include Planned Parenthood, the National Organization of Women (NOW), the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), "Catholics" for a Free Choice, the list goes on and on.
Getting on organizations' mailing lists is one way to keep on top of what is happening in the world outside of your campus. Your group might also try to get a subscription to the Congressional Record - ask your Congressman - or at least try to get on your Congressman's or Senator's mailing list. Look around, there are plenty more organizations that could be added here.
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