USF students host event to raise awareness of animal cruelty

Students Protecting the Environment and Animals with Knowledge (SPEAK) is teaming up with peta2 for the “Liberation Project,” which aims to educate students about animal cruelty.

Representatives of peta2 will be on campus today through Thursday outside Russell M. Cooper Hall for the campaign, which connects today’s cruelty and exploitation of animals to past events of abuse and oppression on humans, said Colleen Mulcahey, adviser for SPEAK.

She said the exhibit features graphic photos abuse to both humans and animals. The comparison is meant to put the issue into perspective for students.

“An example of that would be slavery … (A picture of) people who are chained up and then you’d see (a picture of) animals, like dogs, chained up,” Mulcahey said.

At the event, students can sign a petition for SPEAK requesting more information from USF on animal testing labs on campus, said Ariana Cauley, marketing and communications officer for SPEAK.

“We’re trying to figure out exactly what’s going on (in the labs) before we can say they’re doing bad things,” said Cauley, a senior majoring in biology.

Candice Bailey, a junior majoring in biology and president of SPEAK, said students who attend the event will be educated on the impact people’s actions have on animals and the environment.

“Students can expect to see pictures of what really happens in slaughterhouses – the truths,” Bailey said.

Peta2 is the branch of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) targeted at college, high school and middle school students, said Adrianne Burke, Liberation Project coordinator. Peta2 is the largest youth animal rights group in the world, traveling to schools in Canada and the U.S. to promote animal rights.

USF and UCF are the only Florida universities to host the event this semester, Burke said.

Burke said she encourages students to stop by the exhibit to learn about the treatment of animals.

“When it comes to a capacity to feel pain and experience suffering, all animals – human or not human – are just the same, and therefore we must give animals equal consideration,” she said.

Cauley said the event is designed to educate students so they can make their own informed opinions.

“We’re not trying to tell you to think one way or another,” Cauley said. “We just want you to hear what we have to say and then decide for yourself.”

SPEAK was formed in 2008 after Mulcahey was approached by Florida Voices for Animals, a non-profit organization in Tampa. There are more than 60 student members in SPEAK, and meetings are held every Friday at 3 p.m. in the Marshall Student Center, Mulcahey said.