Press Release: B.C. Pro-Life Student Group Denied Right to Exist on their University Campus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Kwantlen Pro-Life Student Group Denied Right to Exist on their University Campus

LANGLEY, B.C. (November 27 2012) – Students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University have obtained legal representation to fight a recent rejection by the student union of their application to form a pro-life club on campus.

The Kwantlen Student Association (KSA), which represents the students from the university’s four Vancouver Metro area campuses, explained its decision by stating that the creation of the Protectores Vitae club “is clearly against our own standing policy on Abortion and a Woman’s Right to Choose.”

“We’re very disappointed,” said Oliver Capko, president of the pro-life group. “Our student association is supposed to represent us and not censor us for having a different position.”

“They are in violation of their own policies,” stated Anastasia Pearse, the Western Campus Coordinator for National Campus Life Network, an organization which supports pro-life students across Canada. “Their own policy states that the association can’t censor or interfere with a club, even if it disagrees with its beliefs. Free speech and debate, even on controversial issues, should not be stifled at a university simply because those in positions of authority are pro-choice.”

It also appears that the association may have made amendments on October 26 to Article 2 of its Club Procedures Policy in an attempt to create a stronger basis for denying status. The changes significantly increased the ways in which the student association could justify the denial of club recognition.

The club is demanding that the Kwantlen Student Association grant them status. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) has taken the case and is acting on behalf of Protectores Vitae.

“We sincerely hope that it will not be necessary for Mr. Capko and other students to sue the KSA,” said John Carpay, lawyer and President of the JCCF. “The student union has no legal authority to impose its own views about a moral or political issue on all students by denying club status to students who disagree with the student union. The student union has an obligation to treat all students equally and fairly, without denying the right of students to freely associate on the Kwantlen campus and form the clubs of their own choosing.”

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For media requests, please contact:

Oliver Capko, President Protectores Vitae, kwanlenprotectoresvitae@hotmail.com, 604-772-1156

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

 

Further details can be found on the club’s website.  

To support free speech at Kwantlen, click here.

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University of Victoria Pro-Life Club Censored Once Again

February 7, 2012: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

University of Victoria Pro-Life Club Censored Once Again

Victoria B.C.-The University of Victoria Student’s Society (UVSS) Board of Directors passed two motions to publicly censure the pro-life club on campus, Youth Protecting Youth (YPY) last night, February 6th. The first motion was put forward in response to complaints stemming from an event the club held last November called “Choice” Chain and charged the students with violating the UVSS Harassment Policy. The second motion was passed in response to a poster the club put up on campus in October. As a result, YPY will be denied their ability to book public space on campus for their events and is forbidden to hold “Choice” Chain or other similar events. The club is also banned from putting up posters until a new policy is written by the UVSS to govern poster content. The board also ordered YPY to write a letter of apology to groups who were offended by the poster.

“Choice” Chain is a project developed by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) and consists of volunteers holding three by four foot signs with graphic images of first trimester aborted fetuses. The volunteers engage passers-by in dialogue about abortion. More information about the project can be found here: http://www.unmaskingchoice.ca/projects/choicechain

“This is a disappointing development,” said Cameron Côté, YPY Vice-President and coordinator of the “Choice” Chain event. “People may have felt offended by the images but that in no way constitutes harassment. If you merely have to claim your feelings were hurt or you disliked someone’s message or way of expressing themselves to find that person guilty of harassment, freedom of speech ceases to exist. While we recognize that some people do not like our message, that doesn’t mean we should be censored.  ”

Campus Outreach Director for CCBR, Alanna Gomez, stated, “The charges of harassment have no grounds. There were no complaints made about the conduct of the students, because they acted respectfully and peacefully. The only complaints were based on the negative feelings people had because they didn’t like the pictures the students were holding. Just because someone doesn’t like a picture doesn’t mean they have been harassed, which is what the UVSS is trying to claim.”

The poster that resulted in the second motion was developed by National Campus Life Network (NCLN), and compares the current denial of legal personhood to the pre-born in Canada with similar treatment of other groups in the past. The poster can be viewed here: http://www.ncln.ca/resources/print-resources/person-poster/

“I thought the UVSS had moved past this type of discrimination and censorship since the settlement of YPY’s lawsuit in July 2010,” said Anastasia Pearse, former YPY president. Pearse currently works as the Western Campus Coordinator for NCLN. “Censorship of the abortion debate at a university is shameful and unacceptable.”

“YPY will not tolerate this ideological discrimination,” said Côté. “We must all demand that our   society be free of discrimination and censorship of minority or unpopular viewpoints. If there is a right not to be offended than we cannot have freedom of speech in this country or on campus.The legal killing of so many innocent human beings is a disturbing topic, but it is far too serious to suppress or ignore.”

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For further information:

Cameron Côté (YPY Vice President) – 778-678-4275, youthprotectingyouth@gmail.com

Alanna Gomez (CCBR Campus Outreach Director) – 403-690-5217, acampbell@unmaskingchoice.ca

Anastasia Pearse (NCLN Western Coordinator) – 604-365-3484, westerncanada@ncln.ca

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Press Release: Student Union applies double standard to pro-life students at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Student Union applies double standard to pro-life students at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton)

Dec. 19, 2011. Fredericton, New Brunswick:  Pro-life students at the University of New Brunswick’s (UNB) Fredericton campus were shocked last week to learn from their student newspaper, The Brunswickan, that their club would not be recognized by the Student Union due to a “lack of information”.

“The whole situation has been incredibly frustrating,” says Amanda Magee, the President of UNB Students for Life.  “We have given the Student Union information.  We have offered to be present to answer questions.”

UNB Students for Life applied for club status in October, not anticipating any issues given that a pro-life club is active at the UNB Saint John campus and had also existed at the Fredericton campus only a few years previous.  When their contact on council, Andrew Martel, requested additional information from the club, they replied, ensuring that the information would be received before the next Council meeting on November 20th.  Despite this, Andrew Martel stated at the meeting, according to the Nov. 20th minutes, that he did not receive any information from the club.

“We’ve had to rely on the student newspaper and the minutes of the meetings to piece things together,” adds Magee.  “And the Dec. 4th minutes still aren’t available so we’re not entirely sure what happened.”

What is clear is that the pro-life nature of the club has some Councillors concerned.  Some Councillors said that club would be “contentious” and “inviting debate”.  Others, such as Jordan Thompson, the President of the Council, stated that, “the Student Union is not the moral police. As long as the clubs and societies are functioning with certain conduct, it is not our prerogative to judge them on our certain beliefs.”

“It’s a double standard,” comments Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of National Campus Life Network.  “Simply browse through the listing of clubs on campus and you’ll find clubs with controversial positions.  The Council has asked for additional information; what they need is information concerning what the role of a student union is and is not.  Determining which views are accepted and which are discriminated against is not part of their mandate.”

UNB Students for Life will be addressing the issue at the next Council meeting in January.

“We have a right to be on campus,” asserts Magee.  “Issues like abortion should be discussed and debated.  Resources on positive alternatives should be promoted.  All we want is the same rights as other clubs so we can do these things on campus.”

For more information, contact Amanda Magee, UNB Students for Life President, 506 852 4399.

For additional comment, contact Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of National Campus Life Network, 416 388 0461 (office), 416 388 0461 (cell).

National Campus Life Network is a national pro-life organization that exists to educate, network and support pro-life post-secondary students across Canada.

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Further Information

Prepared December 18th, 2011

  • Oct. 14th: University of New Brunswick (Fredericton) Students for Life submitted their application for club status to the Student Union. The application complied with the clubs and societies policy.
  • Nov. 6th: Student Union council members begin deliberations on whether or not to grant status to the club (Minutes are available online at http://www.unbsu.ca/content/240480 Discussions concerning the club begin on page 15).
  • Concerned that the club could be “controversial”, “touchy” and “negative”, the council resolved to ask for additional information and defer the decision until the next meeting.
  • Nov. 14th: The club receives a request for additional information from Andrew Martel and replied on Nov. 18th.
  • Nov. 20th: Student Union councillors resume debate concerning the club (see minutes at http://www.unbsu.ca/content/240480, starting on pg 14).
    • Andrew Martel, the Vice-President Finance and Operations, stated that he contacted the club for more information and did not hear back from them.
    • Councillors raised objections to the club as it would be a “single issue” club with “political will or intention” (Councillor Gormal-Asal, pg 14), “contentious” and “inviting debate” (Gorman-Asal, pg 15), and potentially disseminating “misinformation” for the pregnancy centre (Glenwright, pg 15).  Other council members stated that the student union should not be a “morality police” (Chamberlain-Boyle, pg 14, and Thompson, pg 15).
    • The issue was deferred until more information about the club was presented.
  • Nov. 23rd: An article in The Brunswickan reports on the debate.  http://thebruns.ca/articles/49984 This is the first the club has heard of the situation.
  • Nov. 24th: The club emailed Andrew Martel, expressing their concern with the manner in which their application was being debated and including additional information on the club. A meeting with the Student Union was requested.
  • Nov. 28th:  Andrew Martel responded by email.  He stated he would provide the responses to the Council that Sunday and suggested that the club attend the meeting so as to answer questions.  The club immediately replied, requesting information on how to find the meeting.  A follow-up email was also sent shortly thereafter, but no answer was received.  As such, no members of the club attended the meeting.
  • December 4th student union meeting. (Minutes for the Dec. 4th meeting are not yet online.)
  • Dec. 5th: Andrew Martel contacted the club by email, requesting further information on what groups and centres the club would be referring students to for help with unplanned pregnancies or post-abortion counselling. The club replied on the same day with additional details and links to the centres’ websites.
  • Dec. 7th: An article in The Brunswickan reported that the club had been denied status at the Dec. 4 meeting, citing “insufficient information from the club.”  In the article, Andrew Martel stated that if more information from the club is received, he will bring it forward.  The information that is needed  is “where the resources are coming from and where they will be directing students.”  http://thebruns.ca/articles/50519
  • Dec. 14th: An email is received from Andrew Martel, informing the group that their information was submitted too late for the last meeting (although additional information had been provided on Nov. 28th, a week before the Dec. 4th meeting).  He will bring forward information from the Dec. 5th email at a January meeting.

 

Update:  Media Coverage of the Situation

LifeSiteNews.com:  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/u-new-brunswick-student-union-denies-club-status-to-pro-life-students

Pro-Woman Pro-Life: http://www.prowomanprolife.org/2011/12/19/bumpy-beginnings/


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