As families and students left the tree-lighting ceremony last night whistling holiday carols, they were met by a group of students with a message more concerned with informing than entertaining.
Eight members of the Alliance for Animal Rights stood in front of Jack Harper's Young Men's Shop, 114 W. College Ave., for about an hour, silently holding signs with messages such as "Fur is dead" and "Animals are not fabric."
Fliers and stickers were distributed to passers-by in an attempt to persuade locals not to buy fur clothing from Jack Harper's and other stores.
Jessica Parry (senior-biobehavioral health), the group's president, said the protest was a result of fur sales at Jack Harper's despite discussions the previous season. "When we started this last year, it was too late in the season to make a difference," Parry said. "Then, this season, they said they were going to sell fur anyway."
Parry said Jack Harper's was selling full-length coats of mink and beaver fur this year. One sign held by the group specifically addressed this, informing the crowd, "55 minks = 1 coat."
Several students stopped to ask the group questions and offer support. Jill Kenny (senior-human development and family studies) said she was proud to see other students supporting the cause. "It's important for there to be student awareness of animal cruelty," she said. "This is a really good spot for the protest, too. Everybody's here."
Kelsey Miller (freshman-communications) said she supported the cause but was not impressed by the rally.
"Since they're not shouting to people in the street, it gets less attention than other protests. It gets the message across, but it's easy to miss," she said.
The Alliance for Animal Rights has protested effectively this way before, and Parry said she feels they can achieve the same result.
The group has also protested the menu at Zola New World Bistro, 324 W. College Ave., because of the foie gras, which is produced by force-feeding ducks or geese. Parry said she protested two times a week for two hours at a time until the controversial item was taken off the menu.
Parry said Jack Harper's was not informed of the date of the protest, but she planned to contact the owner soon to discuss the situation. "We'll absolutely talk with them," she said, "and if they don't take the fur off the shelves, we'll be back after Thanksgiving."
No employees of Jack Harper's were available for comment at the time of the rally.