Ending the Use of Animals

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AnimalearnThe American Anti-Vivisection Society

Student Choice Policies

One way for students to establish their right to choose an alternative to using animals in education is to establish a formal student choice policy at their college or university (See Appendix B.3. and 4. for information on creating a Student Choice Policy). A formal student choice policy is written, can be either university-wide or departmental, and can leave a legacy of humane education that benefits many students who follow369.

An informal, or unwritten, student choice policies, allows the use of an alternative if a student objects to using animals. However, this does not guarantee a student the right to say no to dissection or vivisection, leaving the option to use an alternative at the discretion of the faculty presiding over the course or department370. Therefore, students who do not want to harm an animal while obtaining their education must go through the process of requesting or proposing the idea of an alternative to their professors.

Student choice policies give students the option of using alternatives.Across the United States, ivy-league universities, public colleges and universities, technical colleges, liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and many others have instituted student choice policies371, but the majority of these are not formal student choice policies.

Animalearn receives many inquiries from college and university students who are interested in establishing a formal student choice policy at their school. Animalearn works with students to help them navigate the process of successfully establishing a policy that will allow students to choose an alternative to dissection and lab experiments.

Depending on the college or university, student choice policies can differ on how they address the issue of animal dissection or vivisection. Policies vary considerably in the courses, which they cover, the name of the policy, and the policy’s content. Some student choice policies are easily located on a college, university, or department web site. Others are not as explicit and can be located on websites not affiliated with the university372, in university registration packets373, or hidden within course descriptions374.

A few examples of college and university student choice policies are listed below (See Appendix B for a sample of an ideal Student Choice Policy).

• Bryn Mawr College Animal Use Policy

• Cornell University

• University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Student Choice Policy http://www.animalconcerns.org/external.html?www=http%3A//www.dissectionchoice.org&itemid=200212091302110.625615

• University of New Mexico375

• Virginia Commonwealth University Non-Dissection Degree Paths Bill

The process of initiating such policies affects students, faculty, and administrators, and can be challenging. During the process of passing a policy, taking specific actions can streamline the process. Through research conducted in 2007 with six U.S. colleges and universities376 that are in the process of passing, or that have already passed, student choice policies, Animalearn and Lynette Hart, Ph.D., of University of California at Davis, developed a five-step template for successfully passing a student choice initiative at a college or university (See Appendix B for the template and a sample of an ideal Student Choice Policy).

369Ducceschi, L., Hart, L., and N. Green. “Guidelines for the development of student choice policies regarding dissection in colleges and universities: An ethnographic analysis of faculty and student concerns.” Proceedings 6th World Congress on Alternatives & Animal Use in the Life Sciences. AATEX Special Issue. (2007): 273-276.
371Animalearn. “Colleges and Universities with Student Choice Policies”. Undated. Animalearn. 23 Jan 2009http://animalearn.org/studentcenter_collegeuniversity04.php.
372University of New Mexico’s policy statement is available in testimony written by a university alumnus. Undated. Interniche. 13 Feb 2009. http://www.interniche.org/consh/Lhepner.html.
373Sarah Lawrence College’s Policy on Student Choice is located in the student registration packet.
374Cornell University. Intro Courses. 13 Feb 2009.
375Hepner, Lisa. “Winning Alternatives to Dissection at the University of New Mexico.” Undated. Interniche. 13 Feb 2009. http://www.interniche.org/consh/Lhepner.html.
376Bryn Mawr College; Hofstra University; Sarah Lawrence College; University of Illinois Champaign- Urbana; Virginia Commonwealth University; and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
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