According to the dictionary, passion is any powerfully compelling emotion or feeling. At Cornell, we don’t need to ask Webster to define a word like that for us. Passion, and the courage to act on it, is what landed us all here in the first place. A specific group on campus that you might not know about- with a lot of passion- is the Cornell Coalition for Life. This group of dedicated men and women has banded together to form the only pro-life club at Cornell.
“Being pro-life is a political, moral, and ethical stance,” says Marisel Salazar ’11, the President of the Cornell Coalition for Life. “And to me, it is the most important social and cultural issue of the day.” Salazar stresses the importance of providing a forum for people to talk about this topic in an accepting environment. The goal of the club is to provide a resource for people to ask questions and discuss the issue, even if they don’t all see eye to eye.
In this effort to educate students, adults, and faculty about the pro-life stance, the Cornell Coalition for Life engages in a number of different activities on campus and in the Ithaca community. “We hold a day of silence on Oct. 20 every year, in honor of the silent voices of the unborn,” says Salazar. The group also heads to the local Planned Parenthood to engage in peaceful protest, helps fundraise for the Ithaca pregnancy centers, and participates in an international 40 day pro-life campaign where people all over the world spread the word about the pro-life cause.
One of the most controversial campaigns the Cornell Coalition for Life has hosted recently was last year when the club posted signs around the engineering quad detailing the gestation of a fetus from the zygote stage. An employee from the engineering college ripped out the signs from the lawn and when confronted, refused to give them back. Later, the employee noted that he didn’t think they were appropriate and doubted that they had university approval, even though in fact they did. The club was disappointed their signs were down for a period of time, but it generated a discussion about the power and importance of free speech, and consequentially raised awareness about the pro-life debate around campus.
When asked about the purpose of the club, Shea Hasenauer ’13 noted, “It’s not about me. Its about people who can’t speak and can’t see and go unheard.” The power of the club is its ability to provide Cornellians the opportunity to be the face of the invisible and the innocent- those that they feel are persecuted unjustly, according to to the Cornell Coalition for Life. The club is affiliated with the Ivy League Coalition for Life and the American Collegians for life. Together, these organizations are dedicated to protecting all life, while focusing on the lives of the unborn due to abortion and infanticide.
“I am honestly surprised this isn’t a bigger issue talked about on campus,” says Salazar. “It is definitely one of the defining issues of our era.” Each year, new members join to express their ideas and raise their voices in the debate.
And their passion is persistent. Says Hasenauer, “We take pride in what we are doing, yet are always aware of the fact that there is always so much more to be done.”