By Patrick B. Craine
THUNDER BAY, Ontario, November 3, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The pro-life club at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario has had its club status revoked again by the university's student union (LUSU).
After a long battle with the LUSU Board of Governors, dating back to September 2007, Lakehead University Life Support (LULS) won their status in March, but they lost it again last week in a tight vote.
“A lot of people from the [student union board] were actually frustrated and disgusted with the fact that we didn't get this status,” explained Francisco Gomez Jimenez, former club president. In an interview with LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) he attributed the reversal to the fact that several new executives had joined the board this year.
Life Support was fully ratified as a club in 2006/2007, but their application was rejected in 2007/2008. LUSU wanted to impose special restrictions on the club with the purpose of “decreas[ing] the amount of offence.” The club was again denied status on January 10, 2008, after they insisted they would only abide by restrictions applicable to all clubs.
At the time, Jimenez asked Matt Granville, the LUSU board member in charge of student clubs, for further explanation, but was told to contact a lawyer. After having additional written requests ignored and being told by the university's Ombudsman that they were too “political,” the group began considering making a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Commission based on religious discrimination.
In January 2008, seemingly in response to the Lakehead club's attempt to gain status, the Canadian Federation of Students declared a policy that pro-life groups are not welcome on Canadian university campuses and voted to support student unions that ban pro-life groups.
Following last week's decision, Jimenez said that, according to the board, the club “was really hurting people and apparently giving the wrong message to people.” A woman had reportedly gone to the LUSU office during the University's club days this fall and, Jimenez explained, was “apparently crying there for a number of hours, saying that someone told her that she's a murderer if she had had an abortion.”
“We don't know where these comments came from,” Jimenez continued, but, according to him, “this was their point. … This was where they were coming from, saying 'No, we can't let this happen again.'”
Renee Schmitz, Assistant Western Canada Director of the National Campus Life Network (NCLN), with which the club is affiliated, explained that a motion was brought at last week's meeting “claiming that they're an extremist group and that they need to protect students on campus.”
Campaign Life Coalition's Mary Ellen Douglas remarked that this most recent incident is part of a trend of university clubs “being censored and university students being persecuted.” “We just expect the institutions of learning to be places where free speech is allowed, and they shouldn't be shutting down free speech,” she continued.
“They've been given the right to start the club, and the university should be smart enough just to keep them open.”
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Another Pro-Life Student Group Denied Official Club Status
No Support for Pro-Life Groups on Ontario Campuses – Student Federation
Unprecedented Restrictions Placed on Religious, Political Clubs at Ontario's Lakehead University