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Vegan activists demand right to opt out of animal dissection in biology classes at GWU

A George Washington University student group has gathered more than 20,000 signatures on a petition demanding the school let students opt out of animal dissections in some biology classes.

Forcing students to “use animals in a way that the student objects to for any reason is “greatly unethical and dishonorable,” and it’s “traumatizing,” the petition reads:

We insist that all students be allowed to choose not to participate in classroom exercises that are harmful to animals, in particular, dissections. All students who are not pursuing a degree in biology and therefore are in non-major biology courses must be given the option to use humane alternatives such as virtual lab programs and must never be penalized for choosing these alternatives.

The petition was created by GW Animal Advocates, which has previously protested population controls on deer in nearby Rock Creek Park.

It’s more than an animal-welfare group, also “promoting ethical, healthy and environmentally friendly lifestyles, and helping students to understand the importance of these dietary choices.”

The petition insists that “students should never be forced to participate in something that goes against their beliefs.

The effort is being publicized by the petition platform, Care2, which sent an email blast Tuesday featuring the campaign leader, student Hannah Moskowitz:

Moskowitz, who is from East Brunswick, New Jersey, says she was nearly forced to dissect a fetal pig for a class titled “The Ecology and Evolution of Organisms,” which is not for biology majors.

“My adviser was willing to work with me to allow me to take another course, but not every student is as lucky,” Moskowitz told Care2. “Students should not be turned off from learning about biology because they are morally or religiously against dissection — or even if they just think it’s gross!”

It’s the first “main campaign” the group is launching, according to Moskowitz. She elaborated on the vague language in the group’s charter, saying the group provides “many free vegan food taste tests.”

Read the petition.

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IMAGE: Barraña Galicia/Wikimedia Commons

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