Academic Advisors: A New Threat to the Pro-Life Movement?

Opinion   |   Kristan Hawkins   |   Aug 11, 2011   |   6:02PM   |   Washington, DC

Our team and the thousands of students we work with across the nation know how tough starting and maintaining a student-run, pro-life campus group is. Not only do these students face the liberal agendas of their college administrations and professors, but garnering support for anything controversial can be a bigger job than tackling the actual issue at hand. Even students at Christian and other known religious and conservative schools have discovered that leading a pro-life group is no cakewalk.

What has been brought to my attention more and more recently though is the growing number of pro-life student groups that are close to extinction because of the inability to find an academic advisor.

In fact, this was an issue for me when I was in college. The few pro-life professors on campus were too afraid to sponsor our group at the risk of losing tenure, and the fight to find an advisor nearly crippled our group. Before graduation, I was finally able to convince a liberal, pro-abortion political science professor who respected me as a pupil to be our official advisor. She obviously didn’t agree with our views, but she knew that our threat of being wiped out based solely on not being able to find an advisor simply wasn’t right.

And it’s not.

But how does this coincide with the mantra of most universities to be open to new ideas, thought, and expression?

Advisors of student-run groups are a necessity at most colleges and universities in the U.S., since they, theoretically, help with administrative logistics, resources, and almost always help get your group “official” recognition by the university administration.  But the growing number of student pro-life groups who are unable to find a sponsor are shining a light on a whole new injustice.

If you can’t find a professor willing who is pro-life or willing to stand up for their beliefs, your constitutionally protected right of speech is silenced.

“I recently had this problem,” said former Students for Life of America Missionary Julia Pritchett, “but I began hunting around and networking. I found a professor who is on the local pregnancy resource center’s board, and he was thrilled to be our advisor.” Prichett recommends that students in this position research if and where faculty members hold board positions in addition to campus churches and professors who have adopted children.

The fact is, plenty of professors may not have the time, willingness, or courage to sponsor student-run pro-life groups, no matter what their views, and this poses a real threat to the exposure of the pro-life movement to young people across the country. The professor who ultimately took on my campus’ group was a rarity, and now more than ever, students must look outside the box and examine other resources to continue to Turn the Tide in our favor.

If your pro-life group is facing this situation on campus, contact Students for Life of America immediately as we can provide support and resources and connect you with legal aid if needed.