BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (KT) – The Students for Life chapter at Western Kentucky University gained national recognition for its pro-life activism during the 2020-21 academic year, earning one of three finalist spots for “Group of the Year” consideration by Students for Life of America.
“That was such an honor for us,” said Katelyn Noll, current president of the WKU chapter. “It was not something we were expecting at all because we’re still a fairly new group, and we’re only going into our third year.”
Noll and Emma Cox, who served as president last year, founded the group in 2019 when they discovered there was not an organized pro-life voice on campus.
“I realized that most of my peers didn’t agree with me on this issue,” Cox said. “But most of them also assumed that I agreed with them.”
The young group’s on-campus activism has taken many forms over the last two years, including virtual speaking events with leaders in the pro-life community, weekly tabletop displays where group members engaged their peers in conversations about abortion and a pro-life chalking event. They also hosted fundraisers, built relationships with local pro-life organizations and successfully lobbied the school to create a webpage on the WKU website for pregnant and parenting students.
While their work last year received publicity through the school press, not everyone on campus was pleased with the efforts led by Noll and Cox. Their pro-life chalk across campus was vandalized repeatedly, and group members endured insults and peers spitting at them during a prayer service in October.
Cox, Noll and other group members persevere because they recognize many people reject the sanctity of life in the womb because they do not understand that their own lives have innate worth.
“You just encounter so many people on campus who don’t realize that their life has dignity and value,” Cox explained. “I think that’s why so many people are pro-abortion: they don’t realize that life has value. And although it’s difficult, seeing the brokenness has made it even more apparent how important it is that we do the work that we do.”
The recognition the young group received from Students for Life, while not sought, was validating—especially in the face of opposition.
“We don’t do what we’re doing to get national recognition,” Noll explained. “But having something like Students for Life of America, this huge organization, recognize our little group through our perseverance and persistence and our endurance was really nice—because sometimes it can get really hard. Having that recognition gave us a big boost of confidence and assurance that we are hopefully making a difference."
“We don’t have to solve all the world’s problems in two years,” Cox added. “But the little things that we’re doing and the commitment that we have is paying off. Even if we don’t see the fruits of our labor, we are planting seeds that will grow.”
WKU Students for Life is one of several university chapters across Kentucky advocating for the unborn, with groups at the University of Louisville, Northern Kentucky University and Bellarmine University engaging in similar activism. To learn more about Students for Life of America, visit sfl.brightenunion.com.