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Students at Brandon University Sue their Student Union after Club Banned from Campus

 

Brandon, MB: Pro-life students at Brandon University have filed a lawsuit after having their club status withdrawn by their student union in November without warning.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.”

For further information:

Anastasia Pearse
Executive Director, National Campus Life Network
director@ncln.ca
604-365-3484

Catherine Dubois, Brandon University Students for Life
204-570-1710 or duboiscm52@brandonu.ca

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2015 Fall Brandon Chalking_4

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University of Toronto Mississauga Student Union sued over censoring free expression on campus

After fighting since August to have their club status renewed for this school year, students from University of Toronto Students for Life (UTMSFL), with the representation of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, have filed a lawsuit against their student union. National Campus Life Network has been supporting UTMSFL throughout the process as they have been combating the immature and discriminatory behaviour of their student union. Our staff have been impressed and encouraged by their perseverance in this case, and continued dedication to sharing the pro-life message on their campus.

NCLN Staff with UTM Students for Life
NCLN Staff with UTM Students for Life

From the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union sued over censoring free expression on campus

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has filed a court action against the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), to defend the free expression rights of a pro-life student group that is being denied registered club status by UMTSU.UTMSU has refused to renew the club status of Students for Life for the 2015-16 year, effectively barring the student group from using the student centre and accessing student union resources.  As a result, in September of 2015, Students for Life could not join other campus clubs in setting up a table during clubs’ week—a key event for recruiting new members.

UTMSU had granted club status for Students for Life in the 2014-15 school year, but changed its mind specifically because of Students for Life’s “stance on Abortion”.  UTMSU’s mission statement includes a commitment “[t]o safeguard the individual rights of the student, regardless of race, creed, sex … or personal or political beliefs,” and lists “strength in diverse voices and opinions” as a “fundamental belief.”

“It appears that UTMSU sees diverse opinions as good for most topics, but not abortion,” stated Calgary lawyer John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

After receiving a legal warning letter from the Justice Centre in October 2015, Russ Adade, UTMSU Vice-President, changed his previous rationale for denying club status to Students for Life, namely, the club’s stance on abortion.  Adade instead told Students for Life that the reason their club was denied status was “violations and discrepancies we found within your constitution in relation to the clubs handbook and UTMSU operational policy as it pertains to clubs.”

Students for Life immediately made the required changes to their constitution, but UTMSU has continued to deny club status, necessitating court action.

Students for Life has filed a court action against UTMSU for violating its own rules, for acting with bias and bad faith, for breaching the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness, and for failing to respect students’ fundamental freedoms of expression and association.

“The actions of UTMSU have demonstrated their disregard for their own rules, and for students’ freedom of expression and freedom of association,” stated Diane Zettel, President of Students for Life.

For more information, please contact:

Diane Zettel, President, UTM Students for Life
647-224-9339 or diane.zettel@mail.utoronto.ca

John Carpay, President, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms
403-619-8014 or jcarpay@jccf.ca

 Visit the UTMSFL website
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ANTI-ABORTION GROUP AT RYERSON FILES LAWSUIT OVER ILLEGAL DISCRIMINATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ANTI-ABORTION GROUP AT RYERSON FILES LAWSUIT OVER ILLEGAL DISCRIMINATION

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October 14, 2015. TORONTO, ON— Pro-life students at Ryerson University have filed a lawsuit against the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) over denying their club, Students for Life at Ryerson (SFLR), status.

On February 23rd, 2015, the RSU Board of Directors unanimously voted that SFLR would not be allowed to form a pro-life club. This vote marked the last step in an appeal process that began in the fall semester after SFLR was rejected by the Student Groups Committee on the basis that the RSU, “opposes…groups, meetings, or events that promote misogynist views towards woman [sic] and ideologies that promote gender inequity, challenges women’s right [sic] to bodily autonomy, or justifies [sic] sexual assault”.

“Our club stands for human rights for all human beings, including those at the earliest stages of life. We also want to support pregnant students on campus who want alternatives to abortion,” states Carter Grant, a third year business major and Vice-President of SFLR.

Pro-life students at Ryerson were first denied club status back in 2003.  Now students are taking the decision to court to assert their right to be treated fairly by their student union, and to not be discriminated against on the basis of their pro-life viewpoint.

What is happening at Ryerson is not an isolated event.  Pro-life students across the country have faced similar censorship at other institutions, including at the University of Victoria, University of Calgary, York University, Carleton University, Trent University, Lakehead University, and Capilano College.

As a strong advocate for freedom of expression, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) strongly opposes these acts of discrimination and is assisting the students with this case.  CCBR’s new legal department, CCBR Legal, has retained experienced constitutional lawyer Carol Crosson to defend the students.  Ms. Crosson says that, “pro-life students have been denied rights on campuses long enough.  This is the time to end this battle and enshrine students’ rights on campus.”

Through CCBR Legal, CCBR provides legal representation for those in the pro-life movement.  As history as shown, legal representation is an integral part of successful social movements.  The law protects the right for pro-life individuals to share their message on the same basis as others and CCBR Legal is determined to protect this right.

For more information, please contact Carol Crosson at 403-796-8110 or ccrosson@crossonlaw.ca, and Carter Grant at 647-213-4242 or carter.grant@ryerson.ca.

 

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Welcome Joanna Krawczynski to the NCLN Staff Team!

Joanna Krawczynski

National Campus Life Network is pleased to announce the hiring of Joanna Krawczynski as the new Western Campus Coordinator, working out of NCLN’s B.C. office. Joanna will be replacing Anastasia Pearse, who is moving into the Executive Director position as of August 1st. As the Western Campus Coordinator, Joanna will serve pro-life students from Manitoba to British Columbia.

Joanna graduated this spring from Trinity Western University with a Bachelors of Arts, majoring in International Studies. She also completed her Certificate in Leadership and Applied Public Affairs from Trinity Western.

As the former president of Trinity Western’s pro-life club, Joanna has extensive experience in campus pro-life activism and received training, guidance and assistance from NCLN’s staff throughout that time.

“Joanna will be a great compliment to our NCLN team,” states Anastasia Pearse. “Not only has she been creative and effective in her pro-life outreach, but she regularly goes out of her way to support her club members and other students in B.C., impacting them with her compassion, empathy, and dedication. I’m excited to have her on staff! She has a lot to give and our students out west are blessed to have her supporting them!”

Joanna will take on the position on July 17th.

We encourage you to join us in welcoming her! She can be reached at joanna@ncln.ca

Welcome to the Team, Joanna!

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PRESS RELEASE: Ryerson Student Union Continues to Bar Pro-Life Student Club without Explanation

For immediate release.

PRESS RELEASE: Ryerson Student Union Continues to Bar Pro-Life Student Club without Explanation

Toronto, ON (February 24 2015) – On February 23rd, the Ryerson Student Union (RSU) Board of Directors unanimously voted that a group of pro-life students would not be allowed to form a pro-life club.

This vote marked the last step in an appeal process that began in the fall semester after Students for Life at Ryerson was rejected by the Student Groups Committee on the basis that the RSU, “opposes…groups, meetings, or events that promote misogynist views towards woman [sic] and ideologies that promote gender inequity, challenges women’s right [sic] to bodily autonomy, or justifies [sic] sexual assault”.

“Our club stands for human rights for all human beings, including those at the earliest stages of life. We also want to support pregnant students on campus who want alternatives to abortion,” states Carter Grant, a second year business major and Vice President of Students for Life. “If the student union is going to accuse students of serious things like misogyny, they should be prepared to explain the basis for that. We are still waiting for that explanation.”

The union operates a Centre for Women and Trans People that identifies as pro-choice but the Board of Directors were not willing to allow a student group the opportunity to share another side of the issue.

“Ryerson University talks a good game on the right to freedom of expression, but when it comes down to it, its student union prefers to punish those who do not espouse RSU’s particular viewpoints on social issues,” states Carol Crosson, legal counsel for Students for Life. “Ryerson policies affirm the right to freedom of expression, but it seems that RSU has no desire to adhere to University policies.”

“If the student union can advocate their pro-choice position on campus, why can’t pro-life students present theirs?” asks Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of National Campus Life Network, which supports pro-life students across Canada. “The RSU is marginalizing and bullying students – and not even explaining why.”

For more information, please visit sflryerson.ncln.ca

For additional comment, please contact:

Carter Grant, Vice President of Students for Life at Ryerson, ryersonstudentsforlife@gmail.com, 647 213 4242.

Carol Crosson, Crosson Constitutional Law, ccrosson@crossonlaw.ca, 403 796 8110.

Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of National Campus Life Network, director@ncln.ca, 416 388 0461

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McMaster Students Shout Down Anti-Abortion Speaker

McMaster Lifeline held an event on campus: “Abortion: Reproductive or Human Rights?” presented by Maaike Rosendal of The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Though it was protested and interrupted with yelling and chants, we want to give a big congratulations and thank you to McMaster Lifeline, Maaike, and those who respectfully attended and engaged in the discussion, for being willing to bring such an important message to campus.

What is a university, unless a place to respectfully share and discuss ideas and opinions? Needless to say, the pro-choice position embarrassed themselves that night.

See below for CCBR‘s official press release regarding the incident:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: McMaster Students Shout Down Anti-Abortion Speaker

Between 20 and 25 students shouted down an anti-abortion speaker Thursday night at McMaster University, disrupting the presentation, stealing a box of books and DVDs, and chanting until the police arrived.

The lecture was organized by McMaster Lifeline, a student organization dedicated to raising awareness about the abortion issue, and featured Maaike Rosendal, a speaker with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (www.endthekilling.ca). Pro-choice students apparently took issue with the fact that a speaker with anti-abortion views would be allowed to speak, and responded w10525987_303306069874813_8279273968683516785_nith various chants and signs featuring slogans like, “Pro-sex. Pro-child. Pro-woman. Pro-abortion.”

Audience members expressed irritation that the presentation was disrupted. The popular Facebook Page “Stuff McMaster Professors Say” posted the following statement: “Professors, TAs, and students alike attended this meeting simply wanting to learn more about the prolife view yet people got into unnecessary fights, violating their right to the freedom of speech. The presenters still went on but what they did gave a bad name for prochoicers and the University of McMaster… People in university hold different views from you. That doesn’t mean you should attack people. That doesn’t mean you should silence people. Grow up.”

“It’s a shame that pro-choice students think the only way they can win this debate is by silencing it,” Maaike Rosendal of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform noted, “We are more than happy to engage in dialogue, but at too many universities abortion supporters simply want to shout us down and shut us down.”

The McMaster incident follows on the heels of similar incidents at McGill University, the University of Waterloo, and Brock University. After the police arrived, they ensured the rights of all were respected and the presentation was able to proceed.

Find video footage of the incident here.

For more information, contact Maaike Rosendal at 1-403-360-2376.

Source: http://www.unmaskingchoice.ca/blog/2014/11/10/immediate-release-mcmaster-students-shout-down-anti-abortion-speaker

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ABORTION DEBATED ON BC CAMPUS AS STUDENTS REACT TO JUSTIN TRUDEAU’S STATEMENTS ON ABORTION

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Vancouver, B.C.  On Tuesday October 28thSFU Lifeline will be hosting a debate on the legality of abortion, organized by university students who cite Justin Trudeau‘s abortion comments as a motivating factor for the events.

“We actually wanted and invited Mr. Trudeau to participate in the debates,” stated Emily Ryznar, a third year student at Simon Fraser University and president of the pro-life club, SFU Lifeline. “He has made strong statements about a woman’s ‘right to choose.’ Seeing as the university is considered to be a marketplace of ideas, we believe it is an appropriate venue for him to defend his position and engage in discussion on the issue.” Unfortunately Mr. Trudeau’s secretary stated that he was not available to participate.

Mr. Trudeau has stated that abortion is “not for any government to legislate.” Pro-Life students on university campuses beg to differ, citing it as the government’s duty to protect all human beings in Canada, including the 300 pre-born humans who are killed every day in our Country through abortion.

Stephanie Gray, an international pro-life speaker and author, will be representing the position that there should be laws against abortion – countering Trudeau’s claim that the government should have nothing to do with abortion; this follows her statement that abortion is a violation of the human rights of pre-born human beings. Umer Altaf, president of the SFU Debate Society, will be representing the position that there should not be laws against abortion, defending abortion as a woman’s choice.

“Our universities are places where ideas should be shared and contentious issues discussed,” states Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for the National Campus Life Network, a national pro-life student organization.  “The most recent CIHI stats reveals that over a quarter of abortions are performed on university–aged students. If this is a choice young women are making, it is important that they consider what precisely they are choosing and know what abortion alternatives exist.”

The debate will be held at SFU Burnaby on Tuesday, October 28th at 5:30pm in C9001.

For further information contact:

Emily Ryznar: sfulifeline@gmail.com

Anastasia Pearse: westerncanada@ncln.ca

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For Immediate Release: THEFT AND VANDALISM AGAINST PRO-LIFERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA

For Immediate Release

THEFT AND VANDALISM AGAINST PRO-LIFERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA

Victoria, B.C. (September 11, 2014): On September 10th, two women rushed a pro-life club table at the University of Victoria, snatching the fetal models on display and dumping used cat litter all over the table. Youth Protecting Youth (YPY) was participating in the university’s Clubs Days event and had a recruitment table to sign up new members and engage with other students on the pro-life issues.IMG_20140910_095529035

Although the fetal models were recovered, club members arrived back this morning to find that the vandals had broken into the closed clubs room and that more filthy litter had been dumped on the table and the fetal models – valued at several hundred dollars – had been stolen.

“This kind of behaviour calls into question whether UVic is an environment where people can express their opinions and beliefs without such disrespectful opposition,” stated Adrian Canagasuriam, co-president of the club. “Other clubs and the student body need to be reminded that this kind of criminal behaviour has no place on a Canadian university campus.”

After speaking with campus security, club members made a police report with local authorities.

received_m_mid_1410383571133_ffb87cd4fbfb4a2319_0The club demanded that the University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS) formally condemn the actions of the vandals, and the UVSS has agreed to issue a statement doing so.

“In previous years the UVSS has attempted to ban and censure the club and was sued by the club in 2010,” stated Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for National Campus Life Network, a national organization that supports pro-life students. “It’s reassuring to see that student society representatives were helpful and apologetic in the wake of this incident and we look forward to a strong statement from the UVSS condemning this theft and vandalism.”

“This incident has not prevented us from continuing our outreach,” commented Kimberley Van Der Pijl, who witnessed yesterday’s attack and serves as co-president of the club. “We’ve had very positive conversations with so many students and many have signed up for the club.”
The members of YPY hope that the fetal models will be recovered, and that students who disagree with their message will learn to voice their disagreement in a mature, respectful manner.

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For additional information or comments, please contact:

Anastasia Pearse,
Western Campus Coordinator, National Campus Life Network,
westerncanada@ncln.ca  604-365-3484 (tel: 604-365-3484)

Adrian Canagasuriam
President, Youth Protecting Youth, UVic
youthprotectingyouth@gmail.com

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