Representatives from the student group People for Animal Welfare (PAW) and the youth wing of the national organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA2) held an event called “I, Chicken” that brought students the opportunity to simulate being a chicken.
Samantha Neuber ’16, an organizer for the event, estimated about 30 people did the virtual reality experience, but more people stopped by to pick up informational materials about animal rights and veganism. Neuber also works for The Stanford Daily.
The event, held on Thursday in White Plaza, featured a roughly two-minute simulation of being a chicken with a virtual reality equipment. Participants wore sensors on their backs and arms, as well as headphones and a visor on their heads, to interact with the simulation. In the simulation, the chicken that a participant represented got to wander around a field, before being captured and taken to a slaughterhouse. There was no graphic violence represented in the simulation.
“[It’s] a pretty positive, or sunny, depiction of what actually goes on at a farm because we don’t want to take…extremely graphic [images],” Neuber said.
These images were broadcast on a screen nearby for bystanders not using the virtual reality equipment to experience the visuals as well.
According to Neuber, PAW thought that an interactive event would do a good job at attracting students.
“We thought that it would be fun to have more of…an interactive event rather than a speaker or something like that,” Neuber said.
According to Neuber, PAW was started last winter and is planning on doing more events in future. Neuber specifically mentioned volunteering at animal shelters as something the group wants to do. Neuber identified the goal of the event as to show the reality of farming and to “get people thinking about what they’re eating.”
Neuber urged students to think about the results of their actions. “Ideally, everyone would be able to… eat less meat,” Neuber said. She, however, “[doesn’t] want to impose any sort of…lifestyle on anyone.”
Alex Guay, a PETA2 organizer at the event, said that the virtual reality experience was part of a tour that was going to visit more than 170 schools by the end of the year.
When asked about the mission for the event, Guay said, “We’re hoping for people to start seeing chickens as individuals rather than just producers of meat and eggs.”