Pro-lifers everywhere have something new to protest in addition to abortion.
The Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) announced in December that it is restricting the school’s “anti-choice” groups under an amendment to its discrimination on campus policy. The move affects groups that seek the recriminalization of abortion in their mandate and will deny funding, resources and availability of CUSA spaces to “anti-choice” clubs on campus.
Some enraged Carleton students are petitioning for a referendum in the next CUSA election that will allow those who do not support the student association’s actions to opt-out of their mandatory SA fees. They charge the decision censors fair on-campus discussion.
Pro-life groups and students alike have also accused CUSA of restricting the right to free speech and supporting a pro-choice stance on the abortion issue. CUSA president Shawn Menard disagrees.
“We are restricting the actions of groups who express their views with militant actions and threaten women on our campus,” said Menard. “This is not about freedom of speech. It’s about discrimination against women’s rights.”
At the University of Calgary, the Students’ Union has been less definitive in matters concerning the abortion debate in an effort to maintain an unbiased stance on the issue.
Last year, the SU forbade Campus Pro-life’s Genocide Awareness Project from the lawn in front of MacEwan Student Centre unless they turned their images inward, erected warning signs and surrounded the display in snow fence.
CPL refused these requirements and the decision was left to the U of C administration who allowed the group to put up their display on the highly trafficked lawn between Science B and the library.
“We are keeping these groups at arm’s length on purpose,” said SU vice-president operations and finance Cody Wagner. “It is not a student association’s place to choose whether they’re pro-life or pro-choice.”
Wagner added Carleton’s decision to ban pro-life groups is ultimately counter intuitive and just adds justification to the opposite side of the argument.
U of C CPL president Matthew Wilson also believes the CUSA position discriminates against free speech on campus.
“By allegedly eliminating discrimination with this ban, they are actually promoting it against campus groups,” said Wilson. “Ideas should be allowed on campus for open discussion. Censoring this group really closes the doors on any debate.”
There has been much debate about the methods that pro-life groups are using to convey their ideas. Both the U of C and Carleton pro-life group said they are against using violent means to communicate their viewpoint.
Wilson also maintains that CPL’s methods of using graphic images to link abortion to genocide are non-militant.
“We are working for all humanity while specifically supporting the unborn and using violence would contradict that,” said Wilson. “Any harmful actions are caused by radicals that step out of line and are not supported by us.”