By Heather Francis, VRG Intern
Are you dedicated about fighting for animal rights?
Do you go crazy over Non-Dairy Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream?
Are you inspired to make a difference in your school’s cafeteria?
Do you want to start an animal rights club?
If you said yes to all of those questions, and don’t know where to start, don’t worry. I have compiled a condensed list of steps as a guideline in creating an animal rights group in high school or on your university’s campus.
Meet with your group
1) First, find people who are interested in Animal Rights
· It’s time you start befriending those who are interested in making a difference, and those who are already. Talking about the idea of creating an organization is a great way to start introducing new people into the movement. Also find an advisor (a professor on campus, or teacher) who is interested in animal activism
2) Once you find a handful of people:
· Meet-up together. Find a place in the center of campus or in someone’s dorm. Go out for some delicious vegan food together.
3) Vote on an Executive Board
· President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. As time goes on you may think about adding a Social-Media Liaison or an Event Planner for what you feel is most needed for your campus community.
· In the beginning stages of your organization it’s important to choose a strong leadership team who are invested in the organization so the organization will begin with dedication.
4) Discuss ways to do outreach on campus to find more members
· Use flyers, social media, and/or blast emails.
· Ask teachers/professors if you are able to talk in class about the organization.
· Reach out to other organizations on campus to ask them to advertise the organization.
5) Decide on a name!
· Choose a name that’s simple, to the point, and could be made into an acronym. For example: The VRG (The Vegetarian Resource Group) and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
1) Contact Student Government on campus and figure out how to get chartered as a group on campus.
2) Set up rules/regulations for your club (Some schools have a constitution you could adopt with said rules/regulations in it)
Examples of these rules include:
· Approximation of when the club votes for a new executive board
· How many meetings one has to attend to be a general member
· Meeting times and days
· Who counts the votes
· What happens if there is a tie
· How often the executive board meets
3) Get chartered
· This is dependent on your school’s requirement. It may take up to a month or perhaps a week to be recognized as a school organization. Personally, for my school, organizations are only able to become chartered in the spring semester.
4) Understand Funding
· All Schools are different. Some schools use matching funds, which means they will match the amount of money your organization raises, or they provide funds to you.
· To begin, know how you hope to utilize the funds given to your organization.
Become educated on animal rights issues related to the environment, health, and ethics.
· Watch: Cowspiracy, Earthlings, Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, Fed Up, Soul Food Junkies, Blackfish, and more.
· Read articles online: The Vegetarian Resource Group, One Green Planet, PETA, and more.
Create a network
· Create Social Media accounts for your group using Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
· Jump on your school’s organization portal(if there is one).
· Start mobilizing and and reaching out to students on campus about your organization.
· Make connections with animal rights campus organizers on your campus.
· Keep reaching out to similar organizations on campus, such as The Environmental Club, Public Health Club, or a Nutrition Organization.
Congratulations, you’re officially an organization…now what?
1) Set meeting dates/times
2) Vote in needed Executive Board members
3) Start brainstorming with your club about events to do on campus or for the community for outreach
· Pay Per View
· Information Tables about cruelty-free make up, factory farms, and the vegan/vegetarian diet
· Taste Testing using Vegan Food (Use Vegfund.org to apply for Vegan Taste Tests on your campus)
· Movie Night on campus (Watch Cowspiracy or Vegucated)
· Vegan Potlucks
· Yoga night
· Smoothie Bar
· Cosponsoring Events with other organizations
· Vegan/Cruelty-Free Bake Sale
· Meatless Monday Campaigns
4) Begin to notice the difference your organization has already made
In conclusion, from my personal experience, I know it definitely won’t be easy to start an organization. There’s a lot of dedication involved. When I was petitioning for more options in the dining halls through my organization, someone said to me “If there is going to be more vegetarian options then there will be less burgers, and I want to eat burgers.” People will shake their head, or they will make jokes about how you’re a “hippie” organization. My advice is to rely on your passion and keep pushing to make a difference in the animal rights field.
Links for more information:
Vegfund is a non-profit organization where you can apply for grants to hold taste testing, pay per view, or larger scale outreach programs to students on campus related to animal rights.