As part of a new ProWomanProLife series, yesterday we posted part 1 of our interview with Rebecca Richmond, who is the Executive Director of the National Campus Life Network. She shared that her earliest nickname was “Gaga” and we learned about her organization, the National Campus Life Network. You can check out yesterday’s interview here. Below is part 2 of that interview. Visit PWPL tomorrow for the final segment of the interview.
Faye: Welcome back Gaga…er, Rebecca. Let’s jump right in. What is one fact most people don’t know about NCLN?
Rebecca: Some people think that campus clubs are chapters of NCLN or something like that. But they aren’t. NCLN exists to serve clubs and students, not the other way around. In fact, the entire structure of NCLN is based around service. The board provide the staff with support and service; the staff equip and empower the student leaders they work with; and the student leaders, then, serve the target group – their peers – by reaching out with their life-affirming and life-saving message.
Faye: I thought NCLN only worked on the abortion issue. Does NCLN also work on the euthanasia and assisted suicide file? How so?
Rebecca: Yes we do. Abortion is a bigger focus, both for us and the clubs we work with, simply because so many university students are facing the issue so directly. But euthanasia and assisted suicide are also incredibly important issues that pro-life students need to be educated on themselves and then, in turn, educate their campuses on.
We keep students updated on these issues and encourage them to educate themselves and their peers. Pro-life clubs will bring speakers, host debates, and distribute resources on this issue and we’re here to support them in that.
Faye: What can NCLN student mentoring look like?
Rebecca: We know – because we’ve all been there ourselves – that it’s a challenge to be leading a pro-life club on top of all the other commitments that university students have. So we’re available to students on phone/text/Facebook/Skype/email and, whenever possible, in person. With regular contact we can help the leaders stay on top of the goals they’ve made, address obstacles, and develop their own leadership abilities.
When I was a student I really benefited from this kind of support as well as getting to know Theresa Gilbert, who was the Executive Director of NCLN at the time. All of us on staff love to spend time with students, to share our experiences with them and learn from them as well.
Faye: What kind of challenges are pro-life students facing on campus?
Rebecca: What kind of challenges aren’t they facing?
People are often aware of some of the challenges to having a pro-life club on campus, such as direct opposition and discrimination from student unions and sometimes administrations. There are too many examples of this. But even when the club’s existence isn’t being attacked, students have to be courageous and steadfast when their peers express their disapproval. The bigger problem, though, would be apathy; creativity, compassion and boldness are all required to engage with the student body.
But despite the challenges and obstacles, students have incredible opportunities on campus. They are in the classes, coffee shops and extra curriculars of those who might be facing an unplanned pregnancy; they also have the opportunity to educate Canada’s future leaders and be built up as leaders themselves, ready to engage the culture of whatever field they enter after graduation.
Faye: NCLN has released a number of press releases in recent years regarding the challenges students face in receiving official student club status. In some cases, the students receive support from the legal community. How has the legal community supported and assisted pro-life students?
Rebecca: There’s a lot that we’re able to help students with when facing challenges on campus, but legal help is absolutely essential in too many cases – and I am not a lawyer!! Students have been incredibly fortunate to have some great lawyers in Canada to work with, including Albertos Polizogopoulos in Ottawa as well as John Carpay and Carol Crosson with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. There’s also another Ottawa lawyer named Faye who gets great op-eds into newspapers in support of students and we like her an awful lot too. 🙂
Check back tomorrow for part 3 of the interview. Rebecca will talk about NCLN’s upcoming annual Symposium. She’ll also share how students are encouraged to support and respond to fellow students facing unplanned pregnancies.by