By Andrea Frazier
Students in an introductory-level Political Science course are engaging with the local community to raise awareness about the detriment of puppy mills and to make positive change at Ohio University and in the Athens area.
The course, POLS 1600: Engaging Politics, is taught by Dr. Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, Assistant Professor of Political Science. She encourages her students to recognize that “politics” encompasses so much more than elected officials like Congress and the presidency.
Lopez Bunyasi said that in addition to discourse and decision-making on the national level, politics is pervasive in our everyday lives. It’s present in our bedrooms, in football, in fashion, and it is almost always power.
The class is made up of about 20 students, most of whom are freshmen. As one of their final assignments, the students worked as a team to take a stance on an issue and take some sort of political action on it.
The only limitations were that the action could not be illegal or violent.
To fulfill the requirements, the students painted the graffiti wall, and then manned a table outside of Baker University Center last Wednesday to raise awareness about the inhumane way that puppies are treated in breeding factories known as puppy mills.
There, they encouraged passersby to sign an online pledge on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website, vowing not to purchase pets from the mills or stores that buy from them, like Petland. They also distributed flyers that stated that puppy mills kill 2.5 million puppies every year.
“These animals are being held in terrible conditions, not fed well, a lot of them starve to death,” said Ty Herriot, a freshman studying pre-law political science. “I think that engaging in politics and taking political action is important because if you don’t take action, nothing is going to get solved or get done.”
Kasi Reed, a junior studying journalism, said the students also held on-location education near Petland on East State Street in Athens on Friday, where they held signs that explained that puppy mills are deadly and encouraged people not to buy pets there.
The classmates had infinite possibilities when they came together to choose their issue and stance, but they settled on puppy mills because they could all agree that their inhumane treatment of animals should be stopped.
Once they decided their topic, the class had just two weeks to decide their plan of action and to pull it off. Throughout the process, Lopez Bunyasi reminded them that their goal for the semester was not to change the world, but to draw attention to their cause and make a small contribution to change.
“Maybe some of them will continue on with that form of activism, maybe some won’t,” she said. “But they’ll have the experience of putting themselves out there and having to stand with a cause. And deciding what was worth attaching their name to, that’s also a big deal.”