SUU students discussed animal rights at Pizza and Politics Wednesday, specifically the rights animals have concerning being property, being used for research and being a food source.
During the discussion, the majority of students voted it was appropriate for animals to be used for these purposes; but the majority also voted it was important to take into consideration how these animals were being treated during the process.
Eric Kirby, executive director of the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service, led the discussion by first giving background on current animal rights stories and a definition of animal rights.
“Animal rights is the idea that some or all nonhuman animals are entitled to the possession of their own lives,” Kirby said. “And that their most basic interests, such as the interest in not suffering, should be afforded.”
In a discussion of animals being considered personal property, Turner Wilson, a freshman English major from Roosevelt, said he thinks when humans purchase an animal for the purpose of companionship, they accept responsibility for that animal.
“I think that when you accept the responsibility of owning an animal, you actually become responsible for that animal’s (well-being),” Wilson said.
Regarding animal testing and research, Brenten Canfield, a sophomore music major from Cedar City, said the benefit for the humans should outweigh the cost the animals have to pay.
“If you are testing on an animal to ... save a life or save a species, I think that might be OK,” Canfield said. “But just for the sake of, ‘Oh, I want this certain product to put on my lips to make me look better,’ that’s not OK.”
Helena Darger, a senior psychology major from Centennial Park, Ariz., said when doing psychological experiments, animals are often given more comforts than humans are given.
“When we do psychological research, we actually have more (comforts) in place for the animals than they would do for humans,” Darger said. “We put so much scrutiny into taking care of them, and we don’t put as much into humans.”
Jake Benson, a junior agricultural science major from Cedar City, said it is his opinion that animals are not treated poorly when being used for research.
“The idea of these animals getting thrown into a cage or confinement for research, people need to get that out of their head,” Benson said. “People are putting millions of dollars into research the animals have got to be performing at it’s top quality … so the idea that they are not fed or not watered is the quickest way to put yourself out of business and not (be able to) do the research.”
Kathie Armitstead, a senior history major from Pleasant Grove, said she thinks animals can still be treated with respect while they are also used for food, in a statement that caused many of the students in the room to cheer.
“I eat meat, I love bacon, I’m sorry,” Armitstead said. “But just because I enjoy eating bacon, sausage, hamburgers and pepperoni on my pizza doesn’t mean I disrespect the animal. I mean you can kill something for food and use it to survive and it doesn’t mean you hate the animal, it doesn’t mean you think it’s less than you are.”
Pizza and Politics is hosted by the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service and takes place in the Entertainment Bureau every Wednesday at noon. Students and community members are encouraged to attend.