Choices for Students Down Under
A landmark decision on Australia’s first-ever conscientious-objection policy for university students is imminent. Andrew Knight, a second-year veterinary student at Murdoch University in western Australia, is working to secure students’ right to refuse to participate in live animal laboratories.
Andrew boycotted his live animal physiology labs, and it took considerable effort on his part to overturn academic penalties. He contacted PCRM a year ago to distribute our video Advances in Medical Education with Henry Heimlich, M.D., to medical schools throughout Australia. At the same time, a university Working Party on Conscientious Objection in Teaching and Assessment was established to negotiate a policy where students in any discipline can choose alternatives to animal laboratories and receive full credit for their work.
PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., contacted the university with detailed information on the success of U.S. medical school programs that use no animals in their curricula. Andrew told PCRM that the submission was extremely helpful, and he is optimistic that the policy will be approved, giving ethically-minded students the right to opt out of live animal laboratories without academic repercussions. In the meantime, Andrew is continuing to distribute PCRM’s alternatives literature and encouraging medical students to boycott the laboratories.