By Hilary White
THUNDER BAY, Ontario, January 14, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Another student pro-life group has been refused official club status at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead University’s Life Support (LULS) group applied to the student union (LUSU) twice to have their existence recognized, but were rejected by the Board of Governors January 10, for being too “political” and “controversial”.
The group, supported by the national students’ pro-life organization National Campus Life Network, told LifeSiteNews.com that the student union is guilty of “discrimination” and contradiction of its own principles of conduct.
During the 2006-2007 school year, Life Support was a fully ratified student club; however, for the 2007-2008 school year Life Support’s application for club status was rejected, though there were no substantial changes to the clubs application.
The student union told Life Support members their group would have special restrictions, including not being allowed to give “unsolicited education” on the life issues. This meant that the club could hold meetings but not distribute information or take any pro-active measures such as leafleting or engaging in unsolicited conversations with students. They were told they could not put up posters except those informing members of club meetings.
In a letter handed out at the meeting to board members, LULS said, “Does LUSU plan to monitor every conversation Life Support members have with their classmates and colleagues at school, to make sure we don’t talk about our club?”
“To give a condition that demands our club not to converse with other students about our beliefs as a club, is not only violating freedom of speech and expression as per Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, Section 2, but is contradicting LUSU’s own policy.”
The group was told that the conditions given were intended to “decrease the amount of offence”. The group responded that they would abide only by those conditions that were applied to all student clubs. The board then voted against ratifying the club.
The group has been going through the usual channels to try to gain official recognition. In November of last year, LULS member Francisco Gomez Jimenez emailed Matt Granville, the student in charge of campus clubs for the student union, asking for the reasons of the denial. He was told to contact a lawyer. Further written requests for explanations were ignored. The group approached the university’s Ombudsman to discuss this matter, but the Ombudsman was also a member of the LUSU, who told them the group could not get official status because it was “political”.
Lakehead, however, has a number of student clubs that are political and religious in nature and have the full status of official student clubs. Other groups on campus that enjoy official status include a homosexual activist group Pride Central, and Gender Issues Centre that “addresses issues and interests concerning women and men regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, religion, culture, family life [and] sexual identity.”
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Canadian University Set to Prohibit Club Status for Any Group Opposed to Abortion
Canadian University Bans Pro-life Club after Farcical Vote
Newfoundland University Denies Club Status to Pro-Life Group
Carleton University Pro-Life Group Granted Club Status By CUSA