Mobile Billboard Opposing “Cruelty 101” Circles Fiesta Bowl
Ohio State University officials were met by more than just cheering fans when they arrived in Tempe, Ariz., to support the school’s football team at the Fiesta Bowl. As crowds gathered for the game, a mobile billboard opposing OSU’s cruel spinal cord injury course circled Sun Devil Stadium in downtown Tempe. The billboard, which was sponsored by PCRM, featured a picture of a rat and the words “Meet the next victim of Cruelty 101 at OSU.”
The controversial course requires students to drop heavy weights on the exposed spinal cords of mice and rats in an attempt to mimic spinal cord injuries and paralysis in humans. Later, the rats and mice are led through a series of exercises, such as swimming or running on a treadmill. Nearly 300 animals are used in each three-week summer course.
“These experiments are both cruel and futile,” says PCRM neurologist Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H. “Decades of animal experiments have not produced a clearly effective treatment for people with spinal cord injuries.”
Andrew Page, PCRM’s campaign coordinator, rode with the billboard around a six-block area of downtown Tempe, where about a million football fans and other visitors were crowded during the three-day weekend of the Fiesta Bowl. “We were able to reach a huge audience with an important message about cruelty to animals,” Page said.
Page handed out thousands of fliers to OSU students, faculty, and alumni, urging them to contact university officials. PCRM’s efforts also attracted media coverage: ABC15 News in Phoenix reported on the billboard and the controversy surrounding the OSU course in its evening news broadcast.
So far, university officials have stonewalled the mounting criticism about the course and are fighting PCRM’s requests under the Ohio Public Records Act for photos and videos related to the class.
Last April, PCRM filed suit with the Ohio Supreme Court to receive those materials. “It is disturbing to see this degree of blatant cruelty at OSU,” Page said.