Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the date and time of the rally.
A petition against Colorado State University’s on-campus meat harvesting facility reached over 60,000 signatures as of Sunday night.
The petition, created by freshmen biology major Becca Bleil, aims to halt the construction of an on-campus meat harvesting facility, which has been referred to by some students as a slaughterhouse following the public announcement of its construction.
According to the official proposal, the facility will include a livestock and meat-processing center, a research and development center, a meat demonstration classroom and a retail meat and dairy store and café.
The creation of the facility sparked controversy on campus from concerned students and community members. An animal rights group, Rams Organizing for Animal Rights (ROAR), organized a protest on April 19 outside of the Administration Building to express their concerns about the facility.
Bleil, a member of ROAR, created the petition to present it to President Tony Frank to advocate for the community against the facility.
“I wanted to make it clear to CSU that there are so many people who don’t agree with this decision,” Bleil said. “The facility would negatively affect my ability to concentrate, my consciousness and my education. It is an unwelcoming environment for those who care about animals and do not want them to be killed on a place that is supposed to be a center of learning, inclusiveness, kindness and community.”
Bleil said she is shocked by the amount of support for the petition and hopes to deliver the petition to the administration.
“I had absolutely no idea the petition would become this big,” Bleil said. “I remember, even when it hit just 1,000 signatures, I was astonished and thought that would be the highest it got. I was clearly wrong. My next step is to print out the entire petition and hand deliver it to his office.
Bleil said ROAR is also planning to host a sit-in at the Administration Building on May 5 at 7:45 a.m. where students and community members against the meat harvesting facility will sit in the lobby and hold up signs.
Sarah Yakubek, a freshman who is also a member of ROAR, commented on the petition, stating she would transfer schools if the construction of the facility continues.
“I do still plan on leaving CSU if the slaughterhouse is constructed,” Yakubek said. “This is because my money for tuition would in some way, either directly or indirectly, be going to support this facility which I do not believe in.”
Yakubek said she believes the University is prioritizing the money they received over student concern.
“I chose to come to CSU because I saw a campus that seemed to care about students rather than just money,” Yakubek said. “But there are more than 50,000 signatures on the petition and CSU still seems to be prioritizing the money they are getting from JBS. At this point, CSU is a hypocrite in the purest form and I would be ashamed to say I go to a college like that.”
Melissa Matthews, a senior studying equine science, is among the community in support of the slaughterhouse. Matthews believes the facility will be beneficial for students studying animal sciences so they can properly learn how to harvest meat of different animals.
“Those who are opposing the construction have a right to their own beliefs, as do I,” Matthews said. “However, I feel that they are not understanding that CSU is an agricultural school. Students in the college of agriculture, including myself, deserve the opportunity to learn better techniques for improving the food animal production industry.”
Despite the petition’s support, Bleil does not expect the construction of the facility will halt, yet believes that it is important for those who oppose the facility to have a voice.
“I am sure that they will continue the construction of the slaughterhouse considering CSU received a $12.5 million donation to build this facility,” Bleil said. “However, the goal was mainly just to create a platform to voice my opinion and to allow others who agree to do the same. I plan on continuing to voice mine and other’s opinions about the slaughterhouse.”
Collegian news reporter Piper Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @PiperLDavis.