Before you can successfully start your pro-life group, you have to get the lay of the land at your campus. Find out if the campus is generally friendly to the pro-life message or not. Research any pro-life faculty or staff, what the most effective organizing and recruiting methods are on your campus, and who your opposition will be.
Become an Official Club
Look up your school’s policies on becoming an official campus club. There are usually forms to fill out which you can get from your Student Affairs Office. Most schools require a minimum number of interested students, a faculty advisor and constitution. We have a sample constitution and mission statement that you can use to craft the documents for your group. Be sure you find out all of the requirements so you can become recognized as quickly as possible.
You can usually start hosting activities such as meetings, prayer vigils and volunteer efforts as you’re getting started, but you will be able to do so much more when you do become “official.” Most schools make free resources available to official clubs such as funding from student activities, office space, an email account, printing and copying, supplies and campus space. As an organized group, you can establish a lasting legacy that will continue to make an impact long after you graduate. You also have greater freedom and ability to recruit, hold meetings and advertise.
Know the Power Structure
Talk to other active students about the influential people on campus. Figure out which people hold power and leadership in student government, campus organizing, and school administration. Introduce yourselves to these people and become friendly with them. Having those personal relationships with key people can make a big difference for your group and help you get things done more quickly.
Try to find out who is pro-life within that power structure. While many student and administration leaders will treat you fairly regardless of your club’s mission, knowing which people are pro-life can be very helpful. If you are constantly meeting roadblocks, and think it may be because you are pro-life, finding allies in faculty and administration can help grease the wheels. Of course, if you feel like you are being discriminated against because of your pro-life values, contact SFLA for free legal help.
Assess Campus Environment
Look for other clubs on campus that may be friendly to your pro-life group. Usually, these are conservative and Christian groups, but don’t be afraid to go beyond that. There may be heads of cultural groups, or other special interest groups, that are pro-life and willing to work with you. Ask around and try to ascertain the mood on campus regarding abortion. Are most people pro-life, pro-choice, or apathetic? You may want to try conducting an informal poll of campus to know where you’ll be starting from.
Scout the Opposition
Check out any opposition groups at your school. If your campus did not have a pro-abortion group before your group was founded, then prepare for one to spring up in opposition to your group. It is a good idea to monitor the pro-abortion activity on campus but remember not to get too wrapped up to the point where your club activity falters. Have one of your members attend one of their meetings (to observe). Check out their webpage and Facebook and Twitter accounts. By knowing your opposition, you will be able to focus on specific issues and arguments.
Students for Life of America has full-time field staff who are here to help you! Email us at email@example.com so that we can help you in your campus organizing efforts. And check out all the resources we have available.