By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

VICTORIA, British Columbia, October 23, 2009 ( – The B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) is taking up the case of Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), a pro-life club at the University of Victoria (UVic).

UVic pro-life students, who have been fighting for fair treatment from their student union since October 2008, were finally granted club status and funding by a vote of the Clubs Council on February 10th this year. However, they were again denied the right to be treated equally to other groups on campus only the following month.

In March of this year the UVic student newspaper, The Martlet, reported that the pro-life student club “was denied club money again by the UVic Students' Society, despite Clubs Council voting in favour of the funding.”

According to a press release from the BCCLA, at the October 5th meeting of the UVic Student Society (UVSS) “the Society confirmed its stubborn determination to withhold the funding ordinarily disbursed to clubs, citing particular alarm at YPY plans to hold a public debate between distinguished UVic philosopher Eike-Henner Kluge representing the pro-choice side, and Stephanie Gray of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform on the pro-life side.”

That debate took place this past Wednesday before overflowing crowds, despite opposition from the UVSS and a few protesters. In fact, the debate was so popular that the debaters agreed to hold two debates of an hour and half long each, just to accommodate the number of people hoping to witness the event.

The BCCLA is arguing that the actions of the UVSS in denying the pro-life group funding, “are an infringement of the Charter freedoms of conscience and expression of the YPY group.”

“We have always seen academic freedom – freedom from government interference – against the background of the public university as an institution specially devoted to freedom of inquiry and speech,” said BCCLA Director and former President John Dixon.

“When the university forgets its core identity by preferring censorship over debate it undermines the legitimacy of its claim to independence, and to that extent, its immunity from Charter scrutiny.”

The BCCLA advises that it has written to the UVSS, asking for an opportunity to address its Board, in the hope of achieving a resolution. The BCCLA has also sent letters to the President of UVic, the Chancellor of UVic, and the Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, urging them to intervene if the UVSS refuses to relent.

See previous LSN coverage:

University of Victoria Pro-Life Student Club Once Again Denied Funding