Brandon, MB: Pro-life students at Brandon University have filed a lawsuit after having their club status withdrawn by their student union in November without warning. The Brandon University Student Union alleged that the pro-life stance made some students feel “uncomfortable” and “intimidated” them. The union also argued that the club’s beliefs were contrary to the Canadian Federation of Students’ official pro-choice stance, and that the club itself was redundant because other campus groups (the LGBTQ Collective and the Women’s Collective) addressed the issue of abortion.
The club is not unfamiliar with censorship, as this is not the first time they have had to resort to legal aid in order to regain their official club status. “Our student union claims to serve students and support them in their efforts to share their passions and advocate for various causes,” states Catherine Dubois, president of Brandon University Students for Life, “However, over the past 4 years our club has been repeatedly censored and denied these opportunities offered to every other student. We are tired and frustrated with being treated in such a discriminatory manner.”
“It is unacceptable that a student on a university campus should have to resort to a court challenge to ensure they can enjoy the same freedoms as their peers on campus,” states Anastasia Pearse, Executive Director of National Campus Life Network, an organization dedicated to supporting post-secondary pro-life students, “It is disconcerting that campuses in our country are choosing to censor controversial issues rather than allow for open dialogue and debate.”
Currently, four other lawsuits initiated by pro-life student clubs are working their way through courts across the country. This is the highest number of lawsuits regarding campus free speech issues to be filed by pro-life clubs within a one-year period. The other universities include Ryerson University, the University of Toronto Mississauga, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and the University of Alberta.
“Abortion is an issue that personally affects women of the university age,” states Pearse, “we believe that women deserve to know everything about this procedure, even if the information makes people feel uncomfortable. Universities should not be afraid to accommodate opposing views on important and even controversial issues. With over 250 abortions occurring every day in Canada, this is a conversation that students ought to be having.”
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