It wasn’t a haunted house, but it still gave Binghamton University students a taste of terror.
Peta2, the youth branch of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), debuted its “Glass Walls” exhibit on a campus field to show students the life of an animal on a factory farm, brandishing the slogan, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”
The tent, which was set up on the Mountainview College field outside of Appalachian Dining Hall, was a part of a larger, multi-university campaign to expose the realities of how some of America’s meat is produced.
“I was honestly shocked,” said Lauren Dammacco, a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law. “The conditions they have these animals in seem so antiquated, you would’ve thought with the organic movement we wouldn’t have this anymore.”
Factory farming is a method employed by many meat production companies in America that involves keeping animals in restrictive quarters and allows them little interaction with other animals or the outside world.
“It’s important that people understand what they’re eating,” said Brooke Florio, a freshman majoring in economics. “This is such a cool idea.”
Beckoning students with promises of “free food if you make it through,” peta2 interns led students through different examples of factory farming conditions.
Peta2 brought gestation crates, which hold female pigs in metal cages until they give birth, and farrowing crates, which hold multiple chickens simultaneously. Quotes expressing the vegetarian sentiments of Leonardo da Vinci and Jeremy Bentham lined the walls.
The exhibit ended with a six-minute video narrated by Paul McCartney, screening graphic images of factory farm life.
“I’m vegetarian already, but I still went in to take a look,” said Christopher Szabo, a junior majoring in psychology. “It was cool to have Sir Paul McCartney talk me through the dangers.”
Dammacco thought that the “Glass Walls” exhibition, sponsored by the Binghamton Animal Alliance, was especially relevant in this area.
“There’s a lot of farmland around here, and I know a lot of kids who go here grew up on farms,” she said. “This seems like a good school to have it at.”
The exhibition comes on the heels of Binghamton University receiving an F grade from peta2 on vegan friendliness, though the visit wasn’t prompted by the rating.
“I came in because I was curious about the cruelty,” said Ben Fuller, a freshman majoring in mathematics. “But it probably won’t change my mind.”
Ultimately, the allure of vegan, gluten-free cookies and pamphlets at the end of the exhibit did their job of garnering enough visitors, even if it was partially unintentional.
“It’s kind of sad because you don’t think about what you are eating,” said Angela Vespa, a junior majoring in human development. “But I thought it was a haunted house at first.”