The Journal of History     Summer 2006    TABLE OF CONTENTS

SPEAK Out Against Vivisection -- keeping up the pressure!

"Most [vivisectors are] naturalistic and Darwinian. Now here, surely we come up against a very alarming fact. The very same people who will most contemptuously brush aside any consideration of animal suffering if it stands in the way of 'research' will also, in another context, most vehemently deny that there is any radical difference between man and the other animals".
C.S Lewis on Vivisection

Oxford University, like most higher education institutions, exists in a world of tight budgets. One of its most important sources of funding is that of donations from private sector companies and charitable foundations. Without this funding - which actually far exceeds the combined monies from the government and students - the university would soon become financially insolvent.

Many of those giving financial aid to Oxford University are regular donors, some increasing the university's coffers by millions of pounds. The University's benefactors and patrons exert a huge amount of influence, so that even if they are not directly contributing to the animal abusing departments, the threat of withholding their funding in the future would carry a great deal of weight.

If we can convince these various companies, institutions and trusts to withdraw their funding from Oxford University, the university would not have the financial resources to finish their 'prize' building project - the new animal research laboratory in South Parks Rd - let alone fill it with animals to vivisect. Many of the companies and trusts are probably unaware of the university's deep commitment to and involvement in vivisection, and would probably be shocked to hear the truth about what goes on in the name of science at the institution to which they donate money.

We are convinced that many donors are unaware of Oxford University's track record regarding vivisection. Reports of breaches in animal welfare laws at the University appear to be quickly diffused, yet they are clearly not uncommon. In 1998, the laboratory was subjected to a damning confidential report over breaches in animal welfare law with regard to the post-operative aftercare of vivisected animals. The most recently publicised example of the University-employed professor investigated by the police for refusing to euthanise 'his' lab monkey to release her from extreme suffering is - according to a reliable inside source - just the tip of the iceberg.

Academics not involved in animal cruelty at the university need to be made aware that this issue affects them as well. As we understand it, while there have been cutbacks in two other science departments, the animal research department continues to reap huge benefits. One is forced to ask: if such cutbacks are commonplace, are University staff and students seeing a fair distribution of assets? Isn't it time to say enough is enough?

A number of years ago, C. S. Lewis (one of Oxford's famous luminaries, well-known for his Narnian Chronicles among many other literary works), wrote a paper opposing vivisection. Unlike Lewis who spoke out within the openness of a democracy and was unafraid of standing out as a lone voice, Oxford academics today seem afraid to stand out from the crowd, particularly given the intimidatory tactics used by the pro-vivisection lobby, whose injunction granted against animal rights campaigners also automatically includes any student or staff member who so much as approaches demonstrators.

Although some have made a very public show of their discontent over the project and encouraged SPEAK campaigners to keep fighting, we suspect there are many more dissenting voices among the ranks of the academia. Perhaps the silent majority should take their cue from Lewis and those who - like him - have taken a stand. It is, after all, not just a question of opposing vivisection - it is

(Continue to part b)


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