By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

GUELPH, Ontario, February 3, 2009 ( – The Central Student Association (CSA) of the University of Guelph has announced that Life Choice, the pro-life group at the university, has been granted full club status, which means that the club can apply for funding from the CSA and is eligible to book meeting spaces and hold club events.

The accreditation was revealed when the CSA executive gave out a list of campus clubs that would receive status for the coming semester and the campus pro-life club was on that list.

The Life Choice club was banned by the CSA last October in the wake of the club’s Spring Life Fair, which CSA’s Human Resources Commissioner Joel Harnest said was in violation of CSA policy.

“[Life Fair] wasn’t pro-life, it was anti-choice. Many of the documents distributed were anti-choice. It was a clear violation to CSA policy and rights to students and women,” Joel Harnest told the Ontarion, the university’s newspaper, last fall. The CSA claimed that the Fair constituted an “unsafe space” for women due to the “misinformed and/or misleading” information promoted.

The Guelph Mercury reports that Harnest said the CSA reconsidered their earlier decision because “As we moved farther and farther from the Life Fair, we found the evidence was weaker because of the time gap,” though he still maintained that the student union, as a fundamentally “pro-choice” group, had done nothing wrong.

“In the end, I don’t have any regrets, any shame about how it unfolded. It was challenging. I questioned, sometimes, what I was doing. But in the end I know why I was doing it. I think one of the fundamental goals of a student organization is to protect student’s rights. And a woman’s right to choose is a right,” Harnest said.

Life Choice president Cara Benninger said she was happy the decision to accredit the pro-life club was made, for, as she said when the club was banned, “We want our university to be a place where people feel free to express their viewpoints, so we’re going to stand by our right to do so.”

“A lot of us are relieved it’s over,” Benninger said. “We’re pleased to have club status again without going through what we went through last semester.”

Alan Borovoy of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association told the Guelph Mercury that he agreed with the CSA’s decision that Life Choice had the right to express their beliefs in the context of the university.

“That’s a most welcome development and we commend the student council for it,” said Borovoy, the association’s general counsel.

“They’ve done the right thing. The student council role should be to encourage vigorous discussion. We’re very pleased.”

To contact University of Guelph’s CSA with your opinion:

Central Student Association
Room 274, University Centre
University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 2W1
phone: 519-824-4120 x. 56748
email: [email protected]

See previous coverage:

University of Guelph Student Association Pulls the Plug on Pro-Life Student Group