National Campus Life Network > Blog > Carleton Lifelife

PRESS RELEASE: New Threats and Intimidation by Carleton University Administration

November 30, 2010. For Immediate Release:

NEW THREATS AND INTIMIDATION BY CARLETON UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION

Pro-Life Students Threatened With Disciplinary Action and Arrest

OTTAWA.  On October 27, Carleton Administration threatened pro-life students with charges of non-academic misconduct when they stood with hand-held signs of aborted fetuses on their campus. See video here: http://www.carletonlifeline.wordpress.com

The University subsequently sent the students’ club, Carleton Lifeline, correspondence threatening them with arrest and disciplinary action.  They said these could be consequences if the students did not comply with a strict set of rules which only applied to them; these provisions surround a designated zone created for Lifeline where few students travel in the winter, where they are not able to offer pamphlets or initiate conversations with students, and not being permitted to move if protestors block the signs.

“This act of ‘compromise’ on the part of the University is nothing more than an intimidation tactic limiting our expression on campus,” said club president Ruth Lobo, a Human Rights Major.  “The definition of discrimination is differential treatment and that is what Lifeline is receiving.”

The university is no stranger to graphic images.  In the past month, Holocaust imagery was displayed as part of an Awareness Campaign. Further, Animal Rights activists have also been seen on campus multiple times erecting large, graphic displays in the busiest parts of campus showing slaughtered animals with slogans such as “SHAME ON YOU.” Neither of these events were surrounded by warning signs or held in ‘restricted’ areas.

These campaigns did not result in non-academic misconduct threats or arrest-threats like the anti-abortion signs did.  Arrest threats turned into actual arrests on October 4 when those same Carleton students were arrested for attempting to display the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) in the quad of the University. While GAP is a stationary exhibit consisting of 4×8-foot signs comparing abortion to the Holocaust, the most recent activity of Carleton Lifeline didn’t require a space booking and involved hand-held signs showing aborted fetuses with the word “Choice?”

James Shaw, Vice-President of Lifeline, questioned the University’s conduct asking, “Are students now being required to book standing space on campus? The University is taking a ‘Big Brother’ approach in their relationship with Lifeline. Frankly, we find this behavior more akin to 1984 than to the 21st Century.”


The following timeline summarizes the club’s 2-month-long controversy:


Oct. 4: Four Carleton students arrested for attempting to display the Genocide Awareness Project


Oct. 27: Carleton Lifeline begins a hand-held, mobile project called “Choice” Chain. View video: http://www.carletonlifeline.wordpress.com


Nov. 11: Carleton Lifeline receives official notice of revoked club status from the Student Association (CUSA)


Nov. 12: Carleton Lifeline has a closed meeting with Carleton Administration


Nov. 15: Carleton Lifeline Legal Counsel responds to Student Association


Nov. 18: Carleton Lifeline receives official “Exhibit Zone” Proposal and threatening letter from Carleton Administration


Nov. 19: Carleton Lifeline pursues internal appeal processes with Student Association as well as a judicial review.


Nov. 29: Carleton Lifeline told by Student Association that Legal Counsel cannot represent them at internal appeal meeting.


Nov. 29: Carleton Lifeline Legal Counsel responds to threatening letter from Carleton Administration


For further information, contact Carleton Lifeline at (613) 600-4791, or Carleton Lifeline’s Legal Counsel, Albertos Polizogopoulos at (613) 241-2701.



-30-


Share Button

PRESS RELEASE: Students’ Pro-Life Club Status Revoked

NOVEMBER 15th, 2010: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

STUDENTS’ PRO-LIFE CLUB STATUS REVOKED

Carleton Lifeline told by Student Union it must change its Constitution

OTTAWA – The Carleton University Student Association (CUSA) has notified Carleton Lifeline, Carleton University’s pro-life student group, that the club will not be given club status or funding unless the group renounces its pro-life beliefs in a revised and resubmitted Club Constitution.

This comes on the heels of the arrest of several Carleton Lifeline club members’ arrest last month when they attempted to set up a pro-life exhibit on campus.

“There are two major issues at hand here,” stated Ruth Lobo, president of Carleton Lifeline. “First, is that we are being discriminated against because of our political and ideological values. Second, CUSA has taken our club status away in a way that has violated their own procedural policies regarding re-certification and decertification. We have been a club for 3 years, so why now?”

The club was notified of the denial of status via e-mail from Khaldoon A. Bushnaq, Vice-President of Internal Affairs for CUSA. The email states that Carleton Lifeline’s club constitution is in violation of CUSA’s Discrimination on Campus Policy, which expressly states that CUSA supports “a woman’s right to choose” and will not support any student group that holds a different viewpoint. Carleton Lifeline’s constitution reads “Carleton Lifeline believes in the equal rights of the unborn and firmly believes that abortion is a moral and legal wrong, not a constitutional right. Therefore, Carleton Lifeline shall work to promote the legal protection of the unborn and their basic human rights to life.”

“Our constitution has not changed since our club was first certified in 2007,” said James Shaw, vice-president of Carleton Lifeline. “We have always received funding and status whenever we applied, and were always re-certified as a club from year to year.” Shaw adds that even if other students disagree with their views, a student’s association must respect the diversity of opinion within their own membership.

On November 15, 2010, Carleton Lifeline’s legal counsel wrote CUSA pointing out that their Discrimination on Campus Policy is in violation of CUSA’s own constitution and in violation of a number of Carleton University policies. He also pointed out that the manner in which CUSA denied Carleton Lifeline certification was not in line with CUSA’s own policies and procedures.

“We simply want the same status as other clubs without viewpoint discrimination,” stated club member Nicholas Mcleod. “This decision clearly violates CUSA’s own procedures on certification and re-certification.  As a student, I am forced to give money to CUSA when I pay my tuition which means that I am paying CUSA to discriminate against me. Obviously, our group is going to challenge this.”

For further information, contact Carleton Lifeline at (613) 600-4791, or Carleton Lifeline’s legal counsel, Albertos Polizogopoulos at (613) 241-2701. To see copies of the above-noted correspondence, please visit http://carletonlifeline.wordpress.com/

-30-

CUSA’s Shinerama Incident:              http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2008/11/25/ot-081125-shinerama.html

CUSA’s 2006 attempt to ban Lifeline:  http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2007/jan/07011004.html

See Pg 33 for Discrimination Policy:  http://cusaonline.com/Downloads/cusa_policies_2010.pdf

See Pg 13 Sections 4.1 and 4.2 regarding Certification/Recertification Differences and Section 5.0 for Decertification:                            http://cusaonline.com/Downloads/bylaw_dec_09.pdf

Share Button

More discrimination…

Pro-life students at Carleton are facing additional discrimination: this time from their student union.

On October 4th, 5 students were arrested at Carleton for attempting to set-up a pro-life display in a public area.  Now they are facing discrimination from the body that is, in theory,  supposed to fight for the rights of students on campus.  The Carleton University Students Association (CUSA) has decided not to re-certify the club due to the club’s pro-life stance.

Why?  Because apparently this article of Lifeline’s constitution:

“3.2 Carleton Lifeline believes in the equal rights of the unborn and firmly believes that abortion is a moral and legal wrong, not a constitutional right. Therefore, Carleton lifeline shall work to promote the legal protection of the unborn and their basic human rights to life.”

contravenes these articles of CUSA’s Discrimination on Campus Policy:

“5. CUSA and CUSA Inc. respect and affirm a woman’s right to choose her options in case of pregnancy
6. CUSA further affirms that actions such as any campaign, distribution, solicitation, lobbying, effort, display, event etc. that seeks to limit or remove a woman’s right to choose her options in the case of pregnancy will not be supported. As such, no CUSA resources, space, recognition or funding will be allocated for the purpose of promoting these acti
ons.”

To view the letter from CUSA to Carleton Lifeline, click here.

Lifeline’s lawyer’s response is here.

Share Button

Universities fail to uphold freedom of expression

Below in an article by John Carpay, taken from Pages 5 and 7 of The Lawyers Weekly article, 29 October 2010.


The arrest of five pro-life students at Carleton on October 4, 2010 is a repudiation of the university’s mission is to pursue truth, which necessarily requires vigorous debate and uncensored speech.  Yet students Ruth Lobo, James Shaw, Nicholas McLeod, Zuza Kurzawa and Craig Stewart were handcuffed and driven off in paddy-wagons while attempting to set up their pro-life display on a prominent place on Carleton’s campus, in an area where numerous other student groups have been allowed to express their views freely.

Carleton asserts that “the students were in no way denied the opportunity to express their views or to mount their exhibit.”  But Carleton expressly refused to allow the pro-lifers to use the same well-travelled location on campus (Tory Quad) which other Carleton students are allowed to use to express their views.  This past August, Carleton official David Sterritt told pro-life students that they could not set up their display outdoors because “the Genocide Awareness Project uses promotional materials which are disturbing and offensive to some.”  Carleton offered the pro-lifers an inconspicuous indoor space (Porter Hall) which has no walk-through traffic.

Would Carleton deny a prominent place on campus to gay or Muslim students, just because some people might find their speech offensive?  If other groups wanted to use disturbing photos to expose the injustice of spousal assault, genocide in Darfur, cruelty to animals, or impaired driving, would Carleton limit those groups to an out-of-the-way place?

The Carleton pro-life students could have accepted the university’s discriminatory offer to allow them to set up their display where few would see it.  But like Rosa Parks rejecting a second-class bus ride, these students defied the university’s attempt to appoint itself the arbiter of which views are acceptable enough to be proclaimed openly, and which views can only be expressed in a back room.  As one of the arrested students, Nicholas McLeod, explained it: “The point of a protest is for people to see it.  Limiting an exhibit to an inside room is like telling Martin Luther King that he couldn’t march through white neighbourhoods.”

Like Carleton, the University of Calgary has also attempted to censor pro-life speech on campus while proclaiming that “everyone must obey the rules.”  In 2006 and 2007, the Genocide Awareness Project was displayed on campus for eight days.  The U of C posted its own signs nearby, proclaiming the exhibit was protected by the Charter.  The exhibit generated discussion and debate on campus, without problems or incidents. But in 2008, the U of C started demanding that the students’ signs be turned inwards, such that no person walking by can see the signs.

The “law and order” claims of Carleton and the U of C are fundamentally dishonest because the rules are not being applied equally to all groups.  Arbitrarily denying one group an outdoor place, or ordering a group to hide its signs from view, are forms of censorship and viewpoint discrimination.  Claiming that pro-life groups at Carleton and the U of C enjoy free speech is like claiming that Blacks in the segregated South could attend school, and ride on the bus.  The claim is disingenuous because it’s true only on a very superficial level, while masking the injustice of blatant discrimination.

(Page 7 continuation of The Lawyers Weekly article)

At its core, the right to free expression is a right to offend other people.  Anyone in any country, no matter how oppressive its regime, can say anything they wish so long as it doesn’t offend anyone.  This was true of the old Soviet Union and is true today of China and Iran.  Indeed, these countries will insist that their citizens are completely free to express themselves, provided they don’t say offensive things.  But a truly free society – which Canada purports to be –  is one where people sometimes have to hear and see the things they hate.  For the U of C and Carleton to restrict free speech arbitrarily because some unnamed person or persons might be “offended” or “disturbed” is to place subjective feelings ahead of Charter-guaranteed constitutional rights.

Further, the right of free speech belongs not only to the speaker, but to potential listeners as well.  While claiming to protect “the rights of others” by suppressing unpopular and controversial speech, the U of C and Carleton are trampling on the rights of university students to be exposed to diverse voices.

Recently the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Pridgen v. University of Calgary (October 13, 2010) rebuked the university for its bullying and censorship tactics.  In 2007, Keith and Steven Pridgen (and other students) used a Facebook page to criticize one of their professors as incompetent.  The U of C found the students guilty of non-academic misconduct, and threatened them with the possibility of expulsion unless they apologized.

When the Pridgen brothers challenged these disciplinary proceedings as violating their Charter rights, the U of C tried to rely on McKinney v. University of Guelph, [1990] 3 SCR 229, which held that the Charter does not apply to a university’s dealings with its own employees, by way of a mandatory retirement policy.  However, the Court in McKinney also held that the Charter could apply to university action that is sufficiently governmental in nature.  Applying Eldridge v. British Columbia, [1997] S.C.R. 624, Justice Jo’Anne Strekaf held that the Charter applies in respect of disciplinary proceedings taken by a university against its own students, pursuant to Alberta’s Post-Secondary Learning Act.  Justice Strekaf held that the U of C is “an agent of the provincial government in providing accessible post-secondary education services to students in Alberta” and is “not a Charter-free zone.”  The Court held that “while the university is free to construct policies dealing with student behaviour which may ultimately impact access to the post-secondary system, the manner in which those policies are interpreted and applied must not offend the rights provided under the Charter.”

The Pridgen decision bodes well for pro-life students at Carleton and the U of C, who have courageously resisted the university’s arbitrary censorship.

John Carpay is a Calgary lawyer.  Among his clients are University of Calgary pro-life students who are resisting the university’s censorship demands.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 29, 2010, issue of The Lawyers Weekly published by LexisNexis Canada Inc.

Share Button

Tonight: Carleton Lifeline to host controversial talk

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director


Despite being arrested on October 4th for attempting to put up a pro-life display, the students of Carleton University’s pro-life campus group are continuing to be active as a club.  Working to engage their campus in dialogue on the issue of abortion, they will be hosting a controversial presentation called “Echoes of the Holocaust” tonight.

This presentation, given by Jose Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, draws attention to the similarities between past atrocities and injustices, such as the Holocaust, and abortion.  It was shouted down last year at McGill University as well as St. Mary’s University.

Ruth Lobo, one of the students arrested, made the following invitation in an article by Patrick Craine of Lifesitenews.com,

“We’re inviting anyone who’s heard about the controversy over our arrest and who wants to know why we are so willing to speak up for the unborn, to hear the presentation…We know that we won’t be able to reach as many people from a closed room—which is why we’ve been fighting so hard to get the debate out in the open—but we want people to hear our side of the story.”

The talk will be held tonight, Monday October 18th, at 7 p.m. at Carleton University,  Tory building, room 360,

Share Button

Charter defends free speech rights, says lawyer

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director


Today in the Calgary Herald, a column appears concerning Pridgen v. University of the Calgary and its implications.  Written by John Carpay, lawyer for the Campus Pro-Life group at the University of Calgary, the column clearly articulates what this ruling means for pro-life university students.

“This decision bodes well for pro-life students at the U of C and at Carleton University, who have courageously resisted the university’s censorship of their politically incorrect speech.

This court ruling makes it clear that when a university tries to use its legitimate disciplinary proceedings for an illegitimate purpose such as censorship, the Charter protects the students’ right to free speech.”

To read the column, click here.

Share Button

Student Defends His Right to Free Speech: Footage of the Carleton Arrests

On October 4, 2010, peaceful pro-life students at Carleton University attempted to set up the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP).  The university prevented them from doing so.  In this clip, one member of Carleton Lifeline defends his right to freedom of speech.

 

Shortly thereafter the students were arrested and charged with trespassing on their own university campus.  For video of the arrests, please click here.

Share Button

Press Release: Carleton University Continues to Bully Students

For Immediate Release:

CARLETON UNIVERSITY CONTINUES TO BULLY STUDENTS
Carleton Communicates Misleading Statements to Public

October 6, 2010. Ottawa. One day after Carleton University had Ottawa police arrest 5 students for attempting to peacefully express their views on abortion, a flurry of reports raise questions about whether the students are demanding something not allowed of other students. Footage can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeJkBQn1-r8

University representatives have been reported as stating that no students are allowed to set up displays in the Quad, the area that the pro-life students selected for their signs.

Ruth Lobo, President of Carleton Lifeline, and one of the students arrested, responded: “The university is misleading the public by making it seem as though we are demanding special treatment instead of equal treatment, but that’s not true.”

She explained that their booking request was made several months ago and at no point between then and now did the university communicate to the students, or their lawyer, that the Tory Quad is not bookable space for students.

“Why is the University now claiming the Quad is not bookable space?” asked James Shaw, club Vice President. “We have done extensive research on the policies of the university and see no evidence of their claims that the space isn’t bookable.  In fact, we see the opposite. If, as they’re now claiming, the Quad is not bookable, we should have been told in the summer when we were filling out the application form. That would have been a very simple answer to give, and a much easier one.”

According to the Booking-Space-On-Campus Policy, Tory Quad is listed as bookable space for recognized student groups, which includes Carleton Lifeline. Further, the policy does not place restrictions on display size or content.

According to David Sterritt, who is the Head of Housing and Conference Services at Carleton, the reason for denying the use of the Quad was based on content.  On August 9, 2010, Sterritt wrote the club,

“While we wish to provide your group with an opportunity to express itself freely on this matter, we are also aware that The Genocide Awareness Project uses promotional materials which are disturbing and offensive to some. To this end, we are prepared to offer your group the use of Porter Hall.”

Porter Hall is a closed room on campus that few students pass by and many are even unaware of its location.

“It’s clear by their direct communication to us,” said Lobo, “that this is content-based discrimination.  This censorship should concern everyone, regardless of one’s views on abortion.”

Shaw added, “First the university has us arrested for peacefully exercising our academic freedom and free speech rights.  And now they’re coming up with excuses for their bad behaviour that they never communicated to us.  Shame on Carleton.”

Carleton Lifeline continues to stress that the right to free speech does not exist so much as to maintain mainstream views but more so to protect unpopular opinions like theirs, especially on a university campus.

Lobo said she finds it appalling the university would “mislead the public by making the arrest look like we violated university policy instead of what it really was: that Carleton censors opinions on campus thereby violating their own policy of academic freedom.”


Below is Carleton University’s Human Rights Policies and Procedures- relevant section is Part 1 General Article 4:

http://www2.carleton.ca/equity/ccms/wp-content/ccms-files/human-rights-report-updated-2010.pdf

Below is Carleton University’s Booking-Space-On-Campus Policy- Relevant sections are Section 1 and Appedix A.:

http://www2.carleton.ca/secretariat/ccms/wp-content/ccms-files/Booking-Space-on-Campus-Policy.pdf

For more information contact Ruth Lobo or James Shaw at 613-600-4791 (cell).

-30-

Share Button