The Fall 2011 semester has ended, and what a semester it has been!

The Northeast is a rather hostile area for pro-lifers compared to other parts of the country, but that hasn’t stopped students across the region from boosting their pro-life involvement these past few months.  It’s a trend that has been mirrored nationwide, as we’ve tracked more events this semester than any in the past, and the number of pro-life student groups has increased to a whopping 678 unique organizations in operation!!

In New York and New Jersey, the number of student groups qualifying for our highest activity ranking has almost tripled, and I fully expect that number to triple again by the end of the next semester!

There have been some fantastic achievements that individual groups made, and I thought I’d take the time to highlight a few of them.

• Fordham University hosted a pro-life conference in October that drew students from nine schools in the region, and organizers remain determined to quadruple attendance next October!

• At Houghton College, almost two hundred students have taken part in the L.I.F.E. group’s activities.

• Pro-life students at Hofstra University and Felician College started their efforts in October, and since then have performed or hosted almost 40 activities and events between the two of them!

• University of Buffalo’s Students for Life group expanded from a few people to dozens of interested pro-lifers, most of whom are international students!  UB SFL received national media attention when their pro-life “Cemetery of the Innocents” display was vandalized by not one, not two, but twelve abortion advocates!

• Rebecca Purdy and her merry band of activists at The College of New Jersey faced an uphill battle as Planned Parenthood has a clinic right there on campus.  This hasn’t deterred them, though, and the group (which is just now turning one year old) had sixteen pro-life actions this semester alone!

I had the pleasure of visiting 22 colleges and universities these past few months, and witnessed the birth of thirteen new pro-life student groups at schools across New York and New Jersey – including six high school groups!
I’ve also had the privilege of meeting so many wonderful people that are involved in their local pro-life movement, and want to thank several of them for their support this semester:

Betty and Neil from Life Education Council; Cheryl Calire in Buffalo; Nancy Monette and Mary Skillan in Plattsburgh; Celeste Broyles on Long Island; Natalie and Laurie at NYS Right to Life; and Christine DiNovo and the entire CNY Network for Life team (especially Lisa Hall!) in Syracuse.

A fitting finale to my semester in the field was spending Monday afternoon canvassing at New Jersey Institute of Technology with Rebecca Madrigal.  She’s a junior at NJIT, and her passion for life has spurred her on to form a new pro-life group there on campus.  I remember telling Rebecca beforehand that chances are most of the people signing up would be female, but she reminded me that the campus is mostly male….well, according to Wikipedia the school’s male to female ratio is 4:1, but 4/5ths of the students that signed up were women!

This was a rough semester for everyone in the Students for Life family, after a violent car crash took the lives of Jon, Kortney, and her baby Sophy.  But it’s been heartening to hear so many people tell us that even though they may never have met Jon or Kortney, they still took inspiration from them, and I think that inspiration has been key to the successes the pro-life student movement has seen these past few months.

So take some time to rest up this holiday season, because we’re going to keep this momentum going into the next semester.  I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be the year that the pro-life student movement makes monumental gains in the Northeast!