By Hilary White

  KELOWNA, November 28, 2006 ( – A group of pro-life students at the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia, has lost a vote for recognition as a club. 

  The group’s leader, Marlon Bartram, told that only those opposed to the club were allowed to post flyers. The pro-abortion campus Women’s Centre, as an officially recognized body, distributed flyers urging students to attend the meeting and vote against club status for the group.

  The Student’s Union had refused to ratify the club, even though the group had followed the normal application procedure deciding instead to defer the decision to a vote by the student body. Today, about 75 to 80 students, of a total campus student body of about 5000, attended the meeting and voted about two thirds against the ratification of the club.

  Bartram said the Student’s Union, who told him they are a “pro-choice” body, “may have known all along that a student vote was their best route.”

  Bartram explained that, although he had personally contacted as many people as he could, since his was not a recognized campus club, his group was not allowed to post or distribute flyers of their own or present their position prior to the meeting.

  Bartram told that he tried at the meeting to emphasize the issue of freedom of speech, but was shouted down. Two microphones were set up and students asked questions and debated but “derogatory remarks” against the pro-life group prevailed in the discussion. “It deteriorated into a pro-lifers vs. pro-choicers meeting,” said Bartram.

  In a media release, Bartram said, “While left wing groups such as this speak eloquently of freedom of expression, tolerance, and diversity, those virtues are quick to go out the window when someone who expresses pro life values comes along.”

  The group is not giving up, however. Bartram told that he has had interest from the Catholic Civil Rights League and has been communicating with the BC Civil Liberties Association. Despite its strongly pro-abortion position, the BC Civil Liberties Association has defended pro-life students from discrimination in the past.

  When Lifeline, the students’ pro-life group at the Vancouver campus of UBC was harassed by the Alma Mater Society (AMS), BC Civil Liberties Association helped them seek damages for suppression of freedom of speech.

  The human rights office of the University, however, has refused to investigate the issue, however, telling Bartram that since it is a matter for the Student’s Union, they cannot intervene.

  Bartram told, “The Student’s Union deflected responsibility to hear us out onto the student body and the university isn’t going to do anything about it. If the Student’s Union is not under the university’s rights jurisdiction, who are they accountable to?”

  To contact the University Administration:

  Prof. Stephen J. Toope
  President, University of British Columbia
  6328 Memorial Road
  Vancouver, BC
  Canada V6T 1Z2
  Phone: 604.822.8300
  Fax: 604.822.5055
  E-mail: [email protected]

  Marie Molloy
  Human Rights & Equity Advisor
  University of British Columbia, Okanagan
  3333 University Way, SSC 119F
  Kelowna, BC, Canada, V1V 1V7
  Tel: 250.807.9291
  Email: [email protected]

  Read related coverage:
  Canadian University Set to Prohibit Club Status For Any Group Opposed to Abortion

  Pro-Life University Students Take Censorship Battle to Court