Junior Louisa Wilkinson transferred to Whitworth from Northwest College in Powell, Wyo. less than six months ago, but has already begun to lead. Wilkinson started Whitworth’s newest ASWU-chartered club, Whitworth Students For Life.
The group is a branch of the national organization, Students for Life of America, which is the nation’s largest youth pro-life organization, according to studentsforlife.org.
Wilkinson said there was a branch of SFLA at her last school. She said she was surprised that the club did not previously exist on the Whitworth campus, and felt called to start one. After going through the necessary steps of starting a club—such as drafting a constitution and gathering members for a leadership board—Wilkinson’s proposal was approved by ASWU on April 10.
Wilkinson said she believes that abortion is a relevant and important issue to discuss in college. She said according to the Guttmacher Institute, 45 percent of abortions in America are performed on college-aged women, and 65 percent identify themselves as Christian.
“There are women on campus getting pregnant who have no idea what to do, or who to turn to,” Wilkinson said. “There needs to be a voice on campus to reach out and help these girls.”
Senior and WSFL vice president Stephen Bolin said he thinks that this is not only an important issue for college, but it is particularly important to Whitworth as a Christian university.
“I think as Christians, we need to do something,” Bolin said. “We need to show all the love and support that Jesus first showed [us].”
The mission of the club is not to push an opinion, but to create a more “baby-friendly” campus, Wilkinson said. She said that although abortion is often a very controversial political topic, she has no interest in the club pushing a political agenda.
“We don’t believe abortion is a political issue, we believe it is a moral and ethical issue,” Wilkinson said.
Despite potential controversy the club may create, Wilkinson said that so far all of the feedback she’s received has been positive, though she expects there may be more of a mixed response once the club becomes more established.
“We might receive more [negative feedback] next semester, because this is a controversial issue, but we’re encouraging conversation,” Wilkinson said. “We want to encourage people to join us and talk.”
Sophomore Larissa Huff, East and Duvall representative on ASWU, said there was some hesitation at first among ASWU members to approve the club. However, after discussing the benefits, she said the vote was strongly in favor of WSFL.
“We understood this club wasn’t here to force any opinions, but just to provide support for people going through a hard time,” Huff said.
She said she appreciated that the club encouraged conversation, rather than being one-sided.
“It creates a space where people can feel safe to talk about this issue,” Huff said.
Whitworth Students For Life’s first meeting took place Wednesday, April 17. Bolin said the turnout was good. He said after only a single day of advertising, ten people showed up to the meeting.
Wilkinson said many students who attended are now members of the club. She said she has had 12 students commit to participate in WSFL.
Because the club was chartered so late in the year, Wilkinson said there will only be time to host a few events before the end of this semester. There will be a movie night Wednesday, April 24; the club’s second meeting on Thursday, April 25; and a prayer vigil the week before finals to commemorate victims of abortion.
Wilkinson said she is planning on many more events next year, including a potential diaper drive. She said that one of the long-term goals of her club is to install diaper-changing stations in campus bathrooms. That is part of the pregnant on campus initiative, which seeks to provide support and resources for mothers on college campuses.
Contact Katherine Knoll at firstname.lastname@example.org.