Texas Tech Law School: Contests, Calendars, Protests and More

This spotlight was submitted by Robyn Katz, president of the Texas Tech Law School SALDF.

In September 2007, I received some startling news: an undergraduate student was making light of the Michael Vick situation by producing t-shirts of a Texas A&M dog being hung, with the words “Vick ‘Em” above the image. Immediately, our newly formed SALDF chapter had a meeting and called the General Counsel’s Office. With our chapter threatening to contact the media, the office said that they would get back to us as soon as possible. But by the time they did, it was too late: Virginia Tech, University of North Carolina, and California newspapers had called Texas Tech’s SALDF chapter for comments before the university took action. Out of disgust and outrage, our chapter went public with the Texas Tech newspaper, and our protests were heard. The university banned the sale of the t-shirts and didn’t allow anyone wearing the shirt into the football games. That was our first obstacle, yet we proved successful despite some initial resistance from law students and the administration.

Texas Tech SALDFSince the Texas Tech School of Law SALDF chapter formed in 2007, interest in animal law has grown exponentially at the school and in the community. During the fall of 2007, SALDF, the newest and probably one of the most advocacy-driven organizations at the law school, drew over twenty students at the opening meeting. This number is rather large for a new “progressive” organization, especially at such a conservative law school. However, our SALDF chapter remained hopeful that membership would grow and that students and faculty at the school would become more knowledgeable about the fastest growing specialty in law: animal law.

Despite doubts among some at the school about SALDF, our organization grew strong and remains an active force on campus and in the surrounding community. The Texas Tech SALDF has also been engaged at the national level through competitions like the National Animal Advocacy Competitions, sponsored by the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark. In April 2007, our chapter sent a student (who ended up being a finalist) to the Legislative Drafting and Lobbying Competition in Washington, DC. This year, with the generous help of Dean Walter Huffman, Prof. Rob Sherwin, Prof. Brian Shannon, and ALDF, a Texas Tech SALDF student was able to attend the Harvard Closing Argument Competition and was also a finalist.

Texas Tech SALDF member at Haven Animal Care ShelterIn addition to the competitions, our chapter used the brilliant idea of Seton Hall’s SALDF and created calendars as a fundraiser. We called the calendars “Professors with Their Pets.” The calendar featured  the Dean on the front cover with his secretary’s dog lying in front of his desk, and numerous popular professors laughing, playing, and grading with their respective dogs, cats, and even donkeys! It was a great success, with a total profit of $450. We donated $400 to the local no-kill Haven Animal Care Shelter. With the rest of the money, SALDF organized a contest to determine which Tech Law organization could donate the most time to the shelter. The organization which donated the greatest number  of volunteers won $50. Selflessly, the organization that won, Texas Tech Law Review, donated the money back to the shelter!

Some other successful activities that our chapter completed this year were selling homemade dog biscuits, a blanket drive for the Haven Animal Care Shelter, creating a waiver for fostering dogs and cats, and protesting animal testing at the Texas Tech Health Science Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Because MLK Day is a day of remembrance and fighting for what is right, we thought it was an appropriate date to march outside the medical school with signs and literature about animal testing. Most importantly, though, our chapter focuses on alerting people in the community about the importance of animal welfare. From visiting the sheriff’s office and asking them to enforce tethering laws, to having our president publish an article about commercial breeders, to having an animal law course added to the curriculum, the Texas Tech School of Law SALDF chapter has come a long way in the short time it has been in existence. With the continuous dedication of law students and the support of the faculty and administration, the chapter will show the rest of West Texas the importance of animal welfare and animal law. The support of the entire faculty and staff at Texas Tech has been tremendous this year, and we only hope it grows.

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