On Jan. 24, 40 current University of Dallas students participated in the 47th annual March for Life in Washington in a way that we, as a university, should continue to support for years to come.
The March for Life in D.C. is the largest celebration for life in the world and has occurred every year in the United States since the passing of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that permitted abortion until birth. Half of a million participants were estimated to attend this year’s march.
While marching to inspire change in national policy regarding abortion, UD students were also doing something significant in our history as a university by participating in the first officially recognized March for Life pilgrimage by the UD Crusaders for Life club (CFL).
Treasurer for Crusaders for Life and senior mathematics major Mary Kate Tomassi was “the mastermind behind the whole thing,” as CFL Witness Officer and junior English major Sam Skinner said. Tomassi coordinated several fundraisers last semester with the help of her fellow CFL officers to enable as many UD students as possible to attend.
The fundraising efforts last semester included two bake sales at the Church of the Incarnation, a letter-writing fundraiser, and an online donation initiative.
In total, the Crusaders for Life fundraised $18,000 towards their pilgrimage.
Tomassi was not the first CFL officer to plan to take UD students to the National March for Life. Last year, former CFL president Andrew Collart made significant efforts to arrange a club-organized trip to Washington. But additional planning and organizing were necessary to make the trip happen, Tomassi said.
The enthusiasm of CFL officers and the successful fundraisers made it possible for the 40 students, 23 of whom were freshmen, to advocate for life on Capitol Hill this year.
Senior psychology major Jessica Behrens was one of the students able to attend the march.
“It was the first time going to a march was feasible for me,” Behrens said, sharing the thoughts of many of the student participants in CFL’s organized trip.
The fundraising efforts and efficient planning of CFL “took a lot of the responsibility of my shoulders,” Behrens said.
Behrens enjoyed seeing “so many college kids from schools all over the country” and interacting with other UD students.
Other March for Life student participants also enjoyed their experience.
“It was a well-organized, well-executed event,” said freshman philosophy major Andrew von Weber-Hahnsberg.
Von Weber-Hahnsberg connected the purpose of the March for Life to UD’s mission statement, which emphasizes the pursuit of wisdom, truth and virtue.
“We know that the unborn are humans, that they are people, so we want justice [for them]” von Weber-Hahnsberg said.
Among the many pro-choice arguments heard for abortion is the possibility of a child being born into difficult circumstances. In this argument, abortion is seen as a way to spare a child from a hard life.
Von Weber-Hahnsberg opposed the former argument. “I want everybody to have that opportunity to make of themselves what they want” von Weber-Hahnsberg said.
As one of the attendees of the march, von Weber-Hahnsberg stood witness to the fact that unborn children have a right to life. “No matter the circumstances of your life, your childhood, you deserve the right to make your life better” von Weber-Hahnsberg said.
According to von Weber-Hahnsberg, “The motto of UD exemplifies the spirit of the march.”
Overall, the March for Life pilgrimage with CFL was very successful. I was one of the participants able to attend the National March for the first time. I was grateful that I was able to ascend Capitol Hill with thousands of other people ahead and behind me while in a group of UD students wearing blue CFL hats.
Both CFL officers and students do not want this year’s March for Life pilgrimage to be a one-time occurrence.
“My hopes would be that this trip would continue,” Behrens said.
Due to the efforts of CFL made to make this trip efficient and safe for students, UD administration and students will hopefully be more open to trips to the National March in coming years.
“This is a real step in the right direction,” Skinner said about the success of this year’s pilgrimage.
Trips to the March for Life are completed by “every other major liberal art school in the country, that I know of,” Tomassi said, listing schools such as Benedictine and Franciscan universities. Tomassi certainly does not want to settle for just this one year, although she is “thankful that we were finally able” to take UD students officially to the March for Life.
The March for Life “gets to the heart of encouraging leaders with strong moral virtue,” Tomassi said
My hope as one of the first time participants of the March for Life in D.C. is that the University of Dallas continues to support students who want to advocate for life so we may pursue wisdom, truth and virtue beyond UD.