Canadian pro-life students “guilty” but resolved to fight on
Here’s the latest on our brave U of Calgary students who have now been found “guilty” of exercising their rights of free speech, while being denied the right of legal representation. Depriving people their right of free speech, threatening to deny them the education for which they have qualified, and denying them legal representation (due process) is contemptable behavior by government officials that would be disallowed by any American court; but Canada is a country with the same contempt for disfavored speech that is commonly found in countries ruled by Asian Communist regimes. Freedom-loving people all over the globe should be encouraged and inspired by these students.
In America, CBR defends the rights of students to conduct pro-life activities on campus, but we can’t do it without your help. Please help us keep this from happening in America by supporting our work (click here).
Here’s the press release from the Canadian CBR:
CALGARY – The University of Calgary has notified eight members of the Campus Pro-Life (CPL) student group that they have been found guilty of a major violation under the Non-Academic Misconduct Policy regarding a pro-life display held last month. The verdict comes one week after the students each attended individual, closed-door hearings with an Associate Vice-Provost during which legal representatives were disallowed.
The verdict is “a formal written warning” that if the students “fail to comply with directives of Campus Security staff in the future” it will “result in more severe sanctions,” said Acting Associate Vice-Provost Meghan Houghton, who was the sole decision-maker in the guilty verdict.
“We are going to challenge this verdict,” stated Alanna Campbell, CPL President. “We did not break a single University bylaw or regulation and so we will defend ourselves accordingly. We will also not cease exercising our rights to free speech just because they’re threatening us.
I’d rather be expelled as a principled person than graduate a coward.”
Last month, after having set up a pro-life display on campus for the ninth time since 2006, members of the group were notified that they were being charged with a ‘Major Violation’ under Section 4.10 of the University of Calgary’s Non-Academic Misconduct Policy for “failure to comply with a Campus Security officer or University official in legitimate pursuit of his/her duties” when asked to turn their signs inward or leave campus.
In Houghton’s decision, she referenced the university’s demand that the students failed to comply with: “Signs that welcomed viewers and signs that identified your group as an anti-abortion display could remain outward facing but signs with the actual content of your display… must face away from walkways… or any other areas in which persons on campus would have little choice but to look at your display.”
“That’s blatant content-based discrimination,” said Peter Csillag, CPL Vice-President (Internal). “Why weren’t abortion advocates, or Falun Gong supporters, forced to place their messages inwards when they protested on campus? You can’t have debate if everyone is pointed inwards on themselves. As far as I’m concerned, this verdict against us pro-lifers is not legitimate, and it reveals U of C to be an institute of censorship and double standards—not of higher learning.”
In 2006 and 2007, during the first four displays of the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) on campus, the University defended the students’ right to expression under the Charter, but in 2008 the University reversed its policy without explanation.
“This recent hearing and result is just another step in a long history of intimidation and censorship and if they think we’ll step down as the result of it then they’re sorely mistaken,” stated Cameron Wilson, CPL Vice-President (External).
If you are a pro-life student or pro-life group in America who is being denied equal access to your campus, its grounds, its facilities, etc. based on the content of your message, please contact us at CBR. We can help you assess your situation and arrange for legal help, if needed. Always obey the directives of your campus administration and police, because it is better to be a plaintiff in a civil rights action than to have to defend yourself against a trespassing charge. But contact us immediately so that we begin the process of asserting your First-Amendment rights.
Please help us defend the rights of American students by supporting our work (click here).
This entry was posted on Monday, May 10th, 2010 at 9:41 am and is filed under Campus Debate (GAP). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.