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UBCO students articulate animal rights emotions

Six students from the faculty of creative and critical studies at UBC Okanagan have released a 40-page magazine called Regardless: The Animal in Question.

The magazine features a collection of essays, artwork and creative writing that challenge the way society thinks about animals.

Contributors gathered late last week to share excerpts from the publication.

In March 2011, reports came out of plans to open an animal testing facility on the UBCO campus.

Lindsay Diehl, spokeswoman for the student group, said that students have had a difficult time trying to get any sort of information about the new facility.

“The response has been basically to stonewall anyone asking questions in a really dismissive manner, sort of implying that (they) are untrustworthy and that the concerns they’re raising are in some way made up,” said Diehl.

“I don’t have some naive hope that tomorrow animal experimentation will end. But I’d like to see shifts in that direction. One of those shifts would be transparency.”

The publication got its name due to the fact that the students are encouraging dialogue about animals that suffer in laboratories, regardless of the silence they are getting in return.

According to Diehl, the idea for the magazine grew out of a class taught by UBCO critical studies professor Jodey Castricano. She said that Castricano encouraged students to explore and challenge common assumptions about animal rights and experimentation.

Diehl said that exploring information on the new testing facility hasn’t been easy.

“I think there is a very purposeful effort to keep this kind of information hidden. No one even knew that this facility was being built. Even (Castricano), who is on the senate for the university, had no idea that the facility was being built,” said Diehl.

“No one knows where the money for that facility is coming from. It’s very suspicious.”

Diehl said that prior to the reports about UBCO’s testing facility, very few understood the level of UBC’s own extensive animal research problem.

In the introduction of the magazine, she writes, “UBC’s animal research program entails the distribution of over 100,000 animals to UBC-affiliated projects (every) year and includes invasive, life-ending experiments on endangered sea turtles, Rhesus monkeys and cats.”

The magazine put out by the students also explores society’s alleged discrimination against non-human animals. It challenges the notion that humans are the dominant species and compares animal discrimination to racial or gender discrimination.

Diehl said animal rights activists are constantly stereotyped as uninformed; she hopes that the magazine may be one step towards shedding that label.

She also hopes that, for some, the publication provides motivation.

“I would hope that this magazine gives permission to people who might otherwise not be interested, to be interested.”

Contributors for the magazine include  Lindsay Diehl, Brenda Feist, Shandell Houlden, Rhys Mahannah, Portia Priegert and Taylor Scanlon.

Those who are interested in obtaining a copy of the magazine can e-mail Lindsay Diehl at lindsay_diehl@hotmail.com.

 

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