The Hillsdale College for Life club’s logo.

Senior Ade­laide Holmes, pres­ident of Hillsdale College for Life, has always been pro-life, but it wasn’t until her sophomore year that she became a pas­sionate pro-life advocate with Hillsdale College for Life. Her hard work has quadrupled club par­tic­i­pation. 

“Our goal has been to raise up pro-life leaders,” Holmes said, “because a lot of Hillsdale stu­dents are pro-life. They’re just not doing any­thing about it.”

Holmes’ passion was awakened by Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birm­ingham Jail,” in which he wrote about the church standing by and watching civil injus­tices happen. She said she “felt chal­lenged” by it and won­dered if she would have done any­thing.

“I realized that abortion is an even greater injustice and dis­crim­i­nation than the injustice of that time, and I was doing nothing to end abortion now,” Holmes said. “I threw myself into pro-life work to solve my con­science, and what was a penance became a passion and I love it.”

In the last four years, Hillsdale College for Life has gone from 20 or fewer members to more than 70 stu­dents attending each meeting. According to sophomore and club board member Carly Fisher, before Kathleen Russo ’19 took over the pres­i­dency, the club had dis­ap­peared com­pletely.

“What really started the club up again was the March for Life trips,” Fisher said. “Everyone just got really excited about it.”

The club used to focus on edu­cating people about the pro-life movement, but now it developes leaders in the movement and pro­vides oppor­tu­nities for pro-life activism. The club now offers semi-monthly apolo­getics training ses­sions, the Klusendorf Fel­lowship, and a trip to the March for Life in Wash­ington, D.C. In the last two years, the club has also orga­nized spring break trips, spon­sored by the Susan B. Anthony List, in which stu­dents knock on doors and raise awareness about abortion.

“We’re a fairly unique pro-life club on campus because Hillsdale is such a largely pro-life campus, so our focus is less on trying to con­vince the people around us and it is more a public activism,” Fisher said. “It’s more equipping people on campus to actually do some­thing about it. We want to get rid of any sort of apathy and show how we can exercise this.”

Fisher said the club added the Klusendorf Fel­lowship this year to “raise up the next gen­er­ation of pro-life leaders.”

Freshman Lucy Cuneo joined the fel­lowship this semester, having done pro-life work throughout high school. Cuneo said growing up, her sister with Down syn­drome informed her passion for the movement. 

“The pro-life cause has always been important to me because often­times, for preborn with dis­abil­ities, the impor­tance of their lives is mis­un­der­stood and dis­crim­i­nated against in the womb,” Cuneo said. “I’ve always had a real passion for the pro-life movement with pro­tecting peoples’ lives and every­thing.”

In high school, Cuneo par­tic­i­pated in the March for Life on the east and west coasts, vol­un­teered with a preg­nancy center, and par­tic­i­pated in Forty Days For Life, a semi­annual peaceful prayer protest outside abortion clinics. She said she is inter­ested in con­tinuing pro-life work outside of school and staying active, and the Klusendorf Fel­lowship seemed a perfect avenue.

“The fel­lowship seemed like a good way to connect with people who were inter­ested in pro-life lead­ership and being more active in the movement,” Cuneo said. “We’re getting a more detailed look into pro-life apolo­getics. Whereas the Hillsdale College For Life group is going to apolo­getics videos about once a month, we’re getting a more detailed look on how to do that.”

Earlier this semester, Dean of Men Aaron Petersen stated at a meeting for club leaders that the purpose of campus clubs is edu­cation, not activism. Holmes said the club doesn’t do much activism anyway, but it was still important that the club ful­fills the college’s guide­lines.

“We did a chalking event last year in front of Central Hall, and I think the deans just want there to be a sep­a­ration between the admin­is­tration and the student body,” Holmes said. “One theme I got out of that con­ver­sation was the student body is dif­ferent from the admin­is­tration, so activism as a whole can be dan­gerous to project a certain notion on the college’s name.”

Holmes said the club is about “changing minds and hearts,” and it aims to transform stu­dents’ passion into action.

“Edu­cation requires a response of us,” Holmes said. “It’s really easy to say doing any­thing is activism, and maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. But we’re here to learn, and if we learn some­thing and don’t do any­thing about it, have we really learned any­thing?”