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Cal Poly animal science student: We are not ‘murderers’

Protest actions around the Cal Poly campus led by the local chapter of Direct Action Everywhere and spokesperson Zoe Rosenberg appear to have an objective of disrupting and shutting down the educational facilities that provide learning opportunities for students. Events have taken place at a time when the college has been welcoming hundreds of new students to campus, all of whom have worked extremely hard to be admitted to the school. Events taking place after classes have gotten underway cause even more of a disturbance.

In light of this, I ask the community to be open-minded and consider a broader perspective regarding animal agriculture and the industry as a whole.

Last spring, Zoe Rosenberg and Direct Action Everywhere were on campus numerous times to share their viewpoints. These activities caused classes to be disrupted and even canceled. Not only was the work at the animal units interrupted, but students working there also were personally attacked through social media — called murderers and worse.

As animal science students, we have chosen to pursue an education in that field of study. We do not deserve to be called murderers or criticized for our hard work.

Many students, myself included, come from multi-generational farming backgrounds, and are proud to be agriculture majors at Cal Poly. We have strong desires to pursue future careers staying directly connected to production agriculture. As an animal science major, I have taken many courses to learn about the science, reproductive technologies, proper animal nutrition and safe and humane animal handling skills.

Students at Cal Poly can learn and apply their education through laboratory activities, enterprise projects, student employment and extracurricular activities that are embodied by the Cal Poly “Learn By Doing” motto. My peers come from both rural and urban backgrounds, but together we are all passionate about agriculture and animals and we agree there is a need for animal agriculture in the future.

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The facilities at Cal Poly have been designed to treat all animals with the utmost respect and care. By attending Cal Poly, we have the benefit of working in facilities designed by world-renowned animal care experts like Temple Grandin. Our meat processing center, where we take classes and work, is staffed by a full-time USDA-Food Safety and Inspection Service official. Our teachers — including veterinarians, animal behavior experts, scientists and geneticists — come from all over the world, and are internationally known and respected in their fields.

In our classes and in our work, we learn about the role agriculture plays in feeding the world. We learn that safe food comes from healthy animals, and that animal products play a critical role in ensuring the world has enough to eat. We learn how to think critically, how to ask questions and listen to the answers. We learn that everybody has a different experience and viewpoint, and this is OK. Our hope is that as these demonstrations are planned, everybody, including Zoe Rosenberg and Direct Action Everywhere, remembers the importance of that.

We love animals. This other group and young woman also loves animals. The difference is we are not going to her place of study or work and telling her that her viewpoint is wrong, nor encouraging other people to tell her she’s a bad person. We are not disrupting what she’s worked so hard to achieve, nor attacking her personally.

Our education, values and viewpoints are just as important as Zoe Rosenberg’s.

Sarah Dreyer is a fourth-year animal science student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.