By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

CALGARY, Alberta, November 28, 2008 ( – A group of University of Calgary professors have issued a statement, published in the Calgary Herald today, condemning the U of C’s heavy-handed and intimidating “overreaction” to the Campus Pro-Life Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) display.

This past Wednesday and Thursday pro-life students at the university had set up the GAP display, which includes graphic images of abortions and comparisons between abortion and past genocides. In the weeks leading up to the display, however, the university had threatened the students with arrest, suspension, expulsion, and other censures, if they did not agree either to turn the signs inwards, so that they could not be seen by passersby, or not to erect the display at all.

Political Science Professors Mark Milke, Tom Flanagan and Barry Cooper, as well as Prof. Marco Navarro-Genie of St. Mary’s University College, said, “The university administration has gone overboard in this matter by seeking to restrict students’ freedom of speech.”

“At the beginning of a university education, students are often and properly reminded to keep an open mind about their existing prejudices,” the profs write, adding, “Inculcating an open mind becomes more difficult when university administrations fail to defend freedom of expression, or worse, discourage it, as happened this week at the University of Calgary.”

Prof. Milke said in a Canwest report that the university’s “intimidating” actions before and during this week’s protests prompted the political scientists to write the joint column.

“When you walk across a university campus and you see signs warning about a display that would never be put up for other student associations, and see attempts by the university to charge some of our students with trespassing, and threaten them with expulsion from the university, and you do so with spurious grounds, then the need for a position by some who teach at the university is clear,” said Milke.

The clear position the profs have taken is that, “Freedom of expression is the issue.”

Campus Pro-Life’s lawyer, John Carpay, of the Canadian Constitutional Foundation, agreed, saying that “such expression is guaranteed by Alberta’s post-secondary Learning Act, and by Canadian legal precedent.” Carpay noted in a recent letter to the university that, “on four of the five occasions when students erected their prolife display in the past, the university erected signs on campus to state the display was protected by the freedom of expression guarantee of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
  The profs conclude their remarks by stating, “The university’s mission is to encourage, not discourage critical thinking.

“The administration should cease the constant harassment of students every time this issue arises on campus. Administration should instead provide security, promote tolerance of diverse opinions, and provide space for the pro-life students without the double-standards and restrictions on speech.”

Campus Pro-Life President Leah Hallman told the U of C student newspaper The Gaunlet, “The university, far from supporting its own students who pursue the truth, has suppressed and attempted to intimidate us. The value of a life saved is far beyond the value of anything we could lose by our stand.”

Read the full text of the U of C professors’ statement:

To contact the University of Calgary with your opinion:

Dr. Harvey P. Weingarten, President
  Administration Building, Room 100
  University of Calgary
  2500 University Drive NW
  Calgary, AB T2N 1N4
  Phone: (403) 220-5460
  Fax: (403) 289-6800
  Email: [email protected]

Previous LSN coverage:

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


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