Compassionate Action for Animals (CAA) is fortunate to have not one, but two student chapters in the Twin Cities. The chapters at the University of Minnesota and Augsburg University campuses have fast become hubs for more peer-to-peer advocacy. Fun fact: the two campuses happen to be anchored around the Hard Times Cafe, a local vegan and vegetarian restaurant.
We connected with Marina Kirkeide, chair of the University of Minnesota chapter and Haley Hastings, chair of the Augsburg University chapter to learn about how their groups are doing and what they have planned for this fall semester.
“Overall, our group is doing pretty well. We have about 12 really consistent members right now with more that come and go a bit, but you can do a lot of events with 12 people participating,” said Marina. “I think most members are here because they want support with their lifestyle, but most came to that lifestyle because of the animals and a smaller portion for health and environmental reasons.”
The Augsburg group is newer than the University of Minnesota group, having started spring 2018. “One member of my group felt very isolated because she didn’t know any other vegans before coming to the club,” said Haley. “It’s good to have a sense of community.” Members of the small but strong group went vegan for the animals and invite all (vegan and non-vegan alike) who are curious about plant-based living and animal rights.
Both prioritize making their groups a safe, inclusive space for all members to learn, grow, and explore compassionate, plant-based living together in their roles as chapter chair.
“Our group has some staple events like pay-per-view, food giveaway, bake sale, and dine-outs but I think the real point is just having a place to meet with like-minded people every week,” said Marina about the University of Minnesota chapter. “A lot of people do not get much support or help from friends and family when they become vegan or vegetarian, so it’s nice to have a place to share experiences whether that be venting or small victories. My favorite thing about the group is definitely the friendships I have made and seen other people make.”
In the past year at the University of Minnesota, the biggest change has been that meetings have become a lot more focused on activities for students and less on the planning of events. The majority of the planning is instead done by students in leadership roles, enabling other members to focus on being present at their advocacy events.
“In addition to two food giveaways and a planned farm sanctuary trip, I’d love for the club to be involved with the spring environmental fair at Augsburg,” said Haley. “I’m mainly focused on growing the group and making people aware of us.”
The existence and growth of the two groups indicate an exciting shift toward more people practicing compassionate, plant-based living. Students doing peer-to-peer advocacy create events that end up reaching more folks, contributing to a larger future impact. We are grateful for our student chapters and the work they do!
If you’re a college student in the Twin Cities who is looking to become involved with one of our CAA student groups, visit our campus page to learn more. (High school students are welcome, too!) Weekly meetings have started up for this fall semester, and we have other upcoming volunteer opportunities listed here.