A new radicalism is breaking out on college campuses in America. It has the familiar ring of student activism—the sit-ins, the confrontations with authority.
The students march, they talk about a “cultural revolution,” they turn current wisdom on its head. The group calls itself Collegians Activated to Liberate Life. They’ve taken the year off from their studies to immerse themselves fully in pro-life work and to stir things upon the American college scene. The streets have become their classrooms and their teachers are the pro-life leaders of America.
For students in the American Mid-West, CALL is coming soon to a college near them.
Kristen Peterson, spokeswoman for the group, says the core is made up of only seven students who have dedicated one year of their school careers to galvanize students. Their goal is one day to transform the way their fellow scholars think about life.
“College students have always been the ones to bring about change,” says Peterson, a Psychology and Journalism student who finished her third year at Bethel College before taking the year off to work full-time for CALL. “We have the most energy. The saddest part is to see a lot of people don’t care. They’re very apathetic.”
She says most women who have abortions are college age. That’s why the students in CALL think they can have such an effect. Activism, she says is a “top priority.” They believe they can capture the imagination of their peers through direct action. A crucial element of this, they say, is to recapture for the world the love of the early Christians.
The decision to leave school is not an easy one and neither will it be simple for the students to jump right back into their studies.
“It was a very big deal for us to take the year off,” says Peterson. Parents and families aren’t so much the problem but, “there was more pressure from our friends.”
The students of CALL have staged three Rescues to far this school year, the most recent one in Washington coincided with the annual March for Life. Under the direction of CALL members, the students shut down a clinic for four hours. Police arrested 125 of them. It was the week of the inauguration of President Clinton, and their demonstration under his very eyes showed the president and the world that a growing group of students won’t stand for the popular myths about choice and freedom.
Every weekend the CALL team, as they refer to themselves, is on the road for regional rallies and rescues. The leadership of the group is committed to doing more than just organizing and networking to “reach our goal of making abortion once again unthinkable.”
The next big action happens this month when the students plan an “alternative Spring Break” at the University of Notre Dame. The 12-day event features daily prayer and church services, sidewalk counseling, and activism. Already the authorities at Notre Dame have distanced themselves from the activities by denying CALL use of the school’s buildings.
When not involved in direct action, the students of CALL meet with and try to energize students, in colleges throughout the Mid West. It’s the first time there has been a full-time effort to galvanize students for the pro-life cause in the U.S. Their youth and energy can “bring back hope for the weary veterans” in the movement, says one CALL brochure.
The group is relatively transitory and the members don’t form chapters throughout North America. Most of these CALL students will be back in their regular classrooms next year and their places filled, they hope, with a new and vigorous generation of students.