CALGARY, AB, March 31, 2008 ( – The University of Calgary has threatened to censor one of its own student groups, Campus Pro-Life (CPL), from publicly displaying the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), an educational exhibit that graphically compares abortion to the Holocaust.  CPL members are going to defy the university today and tomorrow as they ignore the new restrictions being placed on their group, and march onto campus to erect the signs.

In a letter to Campus Pro-Life, which was copied to university’s vice-president of external affairs, Roman Cooney, the university’s legal counsel Charlene Anderson wrote, “We have received numerous complaints in the past about the graphic and often disturbing nature of the Genocide Awareness Program’s [sic] signs and placards… we require that the display of all GAP signs and photographs face inward…”

The university has not responded to CPL’s query as to whether other groups have ever been subjected to this form of censorship.

Since 2006, GAP has been displayed at the U of C peacefully with its signs facing outwards on four occasions.  However, at the most recent GAP display in October 2007, some individuals attempted to physically block the GAP display and impede dialogue between CPL members and their fellow students.

In correspondence with CPL, the university has thus far condoned this practice of physical intervention to prevent dialogue.  The university has thus far refused CPL’s request that opposing groups each be given their own space, in order to prevent the physical intimidation by pro-choice protestors which took place five months ago.

“The university is giving in to mob rule,” stated CPL treasurer Leah Hallman.  “Rather than hiding unpopular views, the university should facilitate the expression of all viewpoints and create a safe environment for dialogue,” continued Hallman.

CPL president Matthew Wilson asked, “If a Muslim club were to set up a controversial exhibit on campus and a Christian club objected, would the university require the Muslim club to turn its display inward?”

Censorship is not foreign to the U of C.  In March 2005, because of university restrictions, CPL displayed GAP off-campus.  After a student violently attacked three GAP signs, generating a slew of negative media coverage for the university, CPL retained legal assistance and the U of C eventually changed its position and acknowledged the students’ rights to conduct the display.  In March 2006, the university erected signs around GAP that read, “The exhibit is protected under the relevant sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms related to Freedom of Expression.” Since then, however, pro-choice protests have grown.

“If so-called pro-choice students don’t like what we have to say, they should be allotted space to express their views, not assisted in their attempts to block ours-which is what the university has done,” explained Wilson.  He added, “The U of C administration could take a lesson from Russian university officials who didn’t attempt to suppress GAP on their campuses last fall.” Footage of these Russian GAP displays can be viewed here:

This act of censorship at the U of C is the latest in a string of incidents at universities across the country. In February, the student union at York University in Toronto banned an abortion debate.  At the University of Toronto, the administration requires pro-life students to configure their GAP signs in a horseshoe-shape, with the opening facing inward.  And at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Lakehead University in Ontario, and Capilano College and UBC-Okanagan in British Columbia, pro-life students have been denied club status.

Exhibit Details: *Monday, March 31 and Tuesday, April 1: U of C campus, between Science A & Science B, near MacEwan Hall Student Centre, 9:00am-2:30pm.