The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Student Org Advocates for Animal Rights

PHOTO Courtesy/Jinqi Mao
Members of GLOBE at their “Treat for Change” in Marillac.

Bulletin boards across the St. John’s University campus are always cluttered with flyers advertising different events or opportunities, but if you look closely enough you can find fliers for bake sales, lectures and documentary screenings with the added bonus of vegan food being served.

These belong to The Animal Rights Association at St. John’s — but they are not just a vegan club.

The Animal Rights Association, or TARA, strives to educate students on animal rights issues such as cruelty and neglect against animals. Some members of TARA also have a vegetarian and vegan mindset and advocate against the exploitation of animals for food or any other purposes such as clothing or hunting.

“The best part of being a member of TARA is that it helps spread a positive message to the community, and that this org is not only about fun and games,” TARA President Sofia Yang said. “And there [is] always free delicious vegan food at events as well.”

According to the Humane Society of the United States, a non profit animal protection organization, the most common victims of animal abuse are dogs, cats, horses and livestock. While most cases of animal abuse are not reported, it is approximated that upwards of 70 million domesticated dogs and cats are abused every year.

Through volunteer opportunities, TARA works to serve some of these animals. They volunteer several times a year at the Lewis Oliver Farm Sanctuary in Northport, New York, where rescued farm animals such as cows, chicken, goats and alpacas are given a home and rehabilitation.

TARA also distributes leaflets around campus, including brochures with information to educate students on cruelty against animals and the effects of animal testing.

One of the organization’s most popular events, their annual “Thanksliving” celebration, took place in November. TARA invites students to gather and enjoy vegan versions of popular Thanksgiving dishes.

While some members are vegetarian and vegan, TARA wants students to know that being conscious of animal issues and rights does not necessarily have to mean going vegetarian or vegan.

Yang thinks this is likely one of the misconceptions students could have about the club.  

“People think we are all about veganism which is not true. Yes, veganism is a huge and important topic, but we try to emphasize mostly on animal rights,” Yang said. “Students can try to volunteer at non-kill shelters and become foster parents, help out at farm sanctuaries.”

Yang, a fifth-year pharmacy major, has been a member of TARA for four years.

For students that are interested in becoming vegetarian or vegan, Yang recommends watching documentaries and doing research to stay motivated.

“You have to find your purpose and reason as to why you want to be become vegan, this way whenever you’re feeling like you’re going to relapse, just think back to those purposes,” she said.

Treasurer Anya Evseev, a senior psychology major, has been a member of TARA since her freshman year and has watched the organization grow over the years.

“My freshman year there was at most, like maybe 10 to 15 people that would come to the meetings,” Evseev said. “But now, I think since the whole movement of vegetarianism and veganism is definitely becoming more popular… it’s bringing more attention to it on campus. I’m happy if people even come just for perspective.”

Evseev spoke passionately about the issue and the club’s efforts to work on behalf of defenseless animals.

“It really upsets me that people think that it’s okay to exploit animals, it really hurts me. People are becoming more aware of these issues and I really do hope we see a change,” she said.

Evseev also believes going to animal sanctuaries will give students perspective on just how much difference proper care can make in the lives of mistreated animals.

“[In] the sanctuaries, the workers really are there to give their all. They give the animals a lot of roaming space, feed them and give them medical checks. I know sometimes in zoos animals can go unchecked,” she said.

TARA members want all students and animal lovers alike, vegan or not, to feel welcome to attend a general body meeting or event and learn about what it means to advocate for defenseless animals.

“Obviously animals can’t speak, this isn’t a cartoon movie. I see it as we’re basically the voice for the voiceless. For me it’s really about seeing that animals do feel, and acknowledging that. You can’t just ignore how these animals are feeling,” Evseev said. “Animal rights means standing up for those that don’t have a voice.”

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About the Contributor
Dayra Santana, Editor-in-Chief
Dayra is a senior Communication Arts and Legal Studies major. She joined the Torch during her sophomore year as Assistant Features Editor and later became Features Editor and Managing Editor. In her last year, she is serving as the publication’s Editor-in-Chief and hopes to reach more people in the St. John’s community in new and creative ways, including the Torch newsletter and other digital platforms. Dayra loves to make playlists in her free time and favors Spotify over Apple Music! You can reach Dayra at [email protected].

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