Student Arrested for Asking Question about Primate Experimentation

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Originally Posted: 19 September 2011

Student Arrested for Asking Question about Primate Experimentation

FROM Band of Mercy


Phone/email campaign to Canisius College NY school officials in response to arrest of student for asking a difficult question about animal experimentation. Free speech on a college campus punished?

Please call and/or email the following Canisius College administrators:

Dr. Terri Mangione- Dean of Students
(716) 888-2130
[email protected]

John J. Hurley- President
(716) 888-2100
[email protected]

Erica Sammarco- Assistant to the President
(716) 888-8203
[email protected]

Dr. Michael Noonan- ABEC Director/ISHAR Director
(716) 888-2772
[email protected]


On Friday, September 9th Canisius College's Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations (ISHAR) hosted what was promoted as a "symposium" event on animal experimentation, entitled "The Use of Primates in Biomedical Research: A Personal Perspective." The so called "symposium" featured only one perspective, that of the Dr. James Ha, primate researcher and head of the primate breeding program at the University of Washington (UW) National Primate Research Center (NPRC). The event took place at Canisius' Montante Cultural Center and was "open to the public."

On August 9th, one month prior to the September 9th event, animal advocate and Canisius student Morgan Dunbar, contacted ISHAR Director Dr. Noonan to voice her concern that only one-side of the extremely controversial primate experimentation debate was to be featured at the "symposium." Dunbar repeatedly requested that an expert proponent of humane non-animal research methods be invited to share the stage and present the other side at the "symposium." Dunbar's requests were ignored by Dr. Noonan. Instead, Dunbar was encouraged to attend the "symposium" and participate in the Q&A session that followed Dr. Ha's presentation. Dr. Noonan ensured Dunbar that the symposium would "welcome all points of view."

Dr. Ha's presentation glorified animal experimentation and did not address the harsh reality primate vivisection. At several points throughout the presentation Dr. Ha referred to animal rights advocates as domestic terrorists, wild, crazy and violent. Dunbar attended the "symposium," and stayed for the Q&A session, but did not attempt to present a "point of view." Instead, Dunbar asked a two part question regarding federal Animal Welfare Act violations incurred by UW. Dr. Ha addressed the first part of Dunbar's question, concerning 40 illegal primate surgeries, but Dr. Noonan, acting as "moderator," refused to allow Dr. Ha to answer the second portion of her two part question, wherein she asked about the starvation death of a 3.5 year old stump-tailed macaque. Dr. Ha appeared ready and willing to address the starvation question, but Dr. Noonan continually interrupted the dialogue. Dunbar restated her question, requesting that Dr. Noonan stop interrupting and allow Dr. Ha to answer. Dr. Noonan then signaled to event staff, at which point Dunbar's microphone was cut off and she was forcibly removed from the main room in Montante by two uniformed campus police officers. Dunbar was then moved into the foyer area of the building where she was slammed against a wall and handcuffed. Dunbar was then advised that she was under arrest for criminal trespass and placed into the back of a campus police patrol car.

After learning that Dunbar was a student of the college and had indeed been encouraged to attend (in writing), campus police decided to release her into the custody of her mother-- but not before public safety requested that Dunbar's mother sign paperwork agreeing not to sue. Dunbar's mother did not sign the papers, but the college still released Morgan.

Dozens of eyewitness statements corroborate the fact that Dunbar remained calm, even toned and respectful throughout the Q&A session. Dunbar received several contusions to her arms and legs, a sprained wrist and shoulder injury after attending the college sponsored "symposium."

Dunbar states, "The conditions that allow for social injustice have always emerged as a result of society's failure to recognize the rights of individuals or groups. When denial of such rights is tolerated or indeed encouraged, it is bound to fortify the bases for further repression and injustice. That is why we, as a community, must speak out in solidarity against the repression and severe violation of First Amendment Rights that occurred on September 9th."

Dr. Noonan, is also the Director of Canisius' Animal Behavior, Ecology and Conservation (ABEC) Bachelors program and Director of Canisius' brand new Anthrozoology Masters program.

Dunbar is not so far removed from the ABEC program. Dunbar transferred to Canisius from another local college where she studied veterinary technology. Upon learning that she would have to participate in live animal labs, she decided to transfer from the vet tech college and started looking into Canisius College's ABEC program. "I became aware of the ABEC program, which, on paper, sounded like a dream come true," she said. But her excitement about the transfer was short-lived. In one of her first courses with Dr. Noonan, Social Organization of Mammals, she again found herself facing animal research. As part of the course, students were required to collect data on the behaviors of a captive rat community.

"I witnessed severed digits, infected appendages, cannibalism and blood smeared cage walls on a daily basis," Dunbar said. "I observed students becoming hardened and desensitized to the suffering of the animals as the project progressed." At that point she dropped the ABEC program and began to pursue a degree in philosophy at Canisius.

Dunbar describes Dr. Noonan as a "clever and extremely manipulative individual." She says "He has a knack for transforming well intentioned 'animal lovers' into animal research sympathizers." Impassioned individuals with high hopes of making a difference for animals flock to Dr. Noonan's ABEC and Anthrozoology programs from across the country. Once enrolled in his programs, Noonan's desensitizing animal research projects play a major role in the indoctrination of students to accept the dubious proposition that there is scientific value in the torture and exploitation of non-human animals.

Thank you for everything you do for animals!