Friday April 9, 2010

Calgary University Threatens Pro-Life Students with Arrest and Sanctions

CALGARY, April 9, 2010 ( – Two weeks after the University of Calgary defended a presentation by controversial American conservative Ann Coulter by touting its status as a haven for free speech, the university has threatened a group of pro-life students with arrest and sanctions for expressing their views on abortion.

On Thursday, Campus Pro-life, the University of Calgary’s pro-life club, set up a pro-life display on campus – the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP).

Last year, the university charged the pro-life students with trespassing for erecting the same display, which has been displayed on campus peacefully and without incident twice per year since 2006. The crown prosecutors withdrew the charges prior to trial, however.

But in an e-mail sent to the students’ lawyer Thursday, the university against stated that it “requires that Campus Pro-Life turn the Genocide Awareness Project signs inward so that the University community does not have to view them,” and threatened the students with sanctions for non-academic misconduct.

The pro-life students say that at Thursday’s event campus security initially appeared as if they would not intervene, simply standing on site as the group’s exhibit went ahead without incident. However, in mid-afternoon that changed when U of C security went around the exhibit handing out notices to pro-life students, indicating that if they refused to turn their signs inwards, they could be subject to a fine up to $2,000 ($5,000 for further trespass), arrest, civil action, or non-academic misconduct.

Campus Pro-Life (CPL) president Leah Hallman remarked that, “To our knowledge, no other group has ever been asked to turn its signs inwards.”

“Telling us to turn our signs inwards is like telling black people to ride at the back of the bus,” she said. “Granting us some rights but not all is still discrimination.”

The pro-life students pointed out the irony that, only two weeks prior, U of C provost Alan Harrison had spoken against censorship, in reference to the appearance of Ann Coulter: “If we try to suppress people’s views simply because we don’t agree with them we’re doing two things,” he said. “We’re acting contrary to what the university stands for, and also frankly, we’re providing increased publicity for the person who’s spreading those views. That’s not our purpose. Our purpose is to give her the same respect that everybody else deserves.”

CPL treasurer Alanna Campbell stated that, “It is most curious that U of C threatened us with arrest when they spoke so glowingly in defense of an American speaker – she’s not even a student.”

The club’s project compares victims of past genocides like the Holocaust with unborn victims of abortion. The students say that they plan to set it up again, all day, regardless of the university’s threats, on Friday.

See related coverage:

University of Calgary Charges Pro-Life Students with Trespassing

University of Calgary Pro-Life Students Victorious – Administration Backs Down from Arrest Threats

Calgary University Threatens Students with Arrest for Pro-life Display

University of Calgary Pro-Life Students Defy Threats of Arrest over Pro-Life Display

University of Calgary Once Again Attempting to Censor Campus Pro-Life Club


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