Law students create animal rights group

Victoria Ronderos/Contributing Writer

By the looks of it, it seems like law students believe that animals need rights too.

The Student Animal Legal Defense Fund is a College of Law organization that consists of both university students and members of the community.

The organization’s mission statement says it, “strives to provide a forum for education, advocacy and scholarship aimed at protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system, and raising the profile of animal law.”

The SALDF is part of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. The ALDF is a nationwide organization helps bring awareness of the issues to the nation and fights for animal rights. There are over 100,000 members in the ALDF.

“We want to get the word out there,” said Kimberlee Martin, third-year law student and co-founder of the organization. “There’s a lot of people who don’t really know what goes on in the animal rights field.”

“We really want to involve the student community and the community members. We’ve had a lot of success with getting people in the community to come to FIU and come to our events,” said Ashley Gruber, third-year law student and co-founder of the organization.

There are about 30 university students and about 60 community members, according to Martin. The group organizes and hosts events in the law school and around the community to help bring awareness to current animal rights issues.

Although Martin and Gruber are both advocates for animal rights, they are not studying or practicing animal law, due to the fact that the College of Law does not provide an animal law course. They, however, hope to change that for future law students.

“We have to get a certain number of students that say that they would be interested in taking it before the school will pay it,” said Martin. “So, we’re trying.”

Gruber and Martin established the SALDF in 2011. According to them both, getting the organization to this point has not been easy.

“When we started, no one wanted to give us money for anything, and it was like we were begging for money or begging people to come. And now, it’s good for people to finally realize that we went from nothing to something,” said Gruber.

Both Gruber and Martin have admitted that balancing an organization and law school can be tough.

“I tend to do this more than my school work,” said Martin.

Both Gruber and Martin are graduating this semester. Martin will be practicing criminal and human rights law and Gruber will be practicing immigration law.

Currently, they are both holding elections for SALDF’s new officers. It hasn’t been easy for them, however.

“It’s hard for us, you know, to get people involved, attend events, and now give positions and fill them with responsibilities. Kimmie and I have taken on a lot of roles [because of that],” said Gruber.

They hope SALDF will have a successful future.

“I want them to continue on with the animal law course, ‘cause now this year, instead of focusing on trying to get the class, we tried to focus on more of a gathering, especially law students, and so we need them to keep that up,” said Martin.

“We’re hoping that we put like, the fire into them, to keep it going,” said Gruber.