U. of Manitoba pro-life club survives club status vote, fears future censorship
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, October 8, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The University of Manitoba’s pro-life club survived a Student Union vote last night on a motion to revoke its club status, but two other motions were passed that could potentially hamstring any of the club’s future pro-life activities.
“We're happy that the club's status will not be revoked,” Anastasia Pearse of National Campus Life Network told LifeSiteNews.com. “However, we're concerned that the U of M Student Union is going to reprimand the club by censoring future events.”
The first motion called for the Student Union to lobby the university’s administration for a tightened “review and approval process for public displays,” while the second called for stricter policies for “dealing with controversial student groups.”
“Having official ‘club status’ means nothing if the club is going to be ham-stringed by having each of their events scrutinized and not approved based on subjective criteria,” said Pearse
Cara Ginter, vice-president of U of M Students for a Culture of Life (UMSCL), agreed, telling LifeSiteNews that the two motions will “probably prove problematic for us in future.”
Maria Slykerman, president of Campaign Life Coalition Manitoba, called the measures “terrible.”
“University is a place where students learn, and why shouldn’t they learn from other students what’s going on with abortion?” she said to LifeSiteNews.
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The motions against UMSCL were the result of the pro-life club hosting the Genocide Awareness Project two weeks ago at a prominent campus location, with approval from the university’s administration.
The Genocide Awareness Project is composed of large four by eight foot billboards that compare the victims of abortion to victims of other atrocities, such as Jews in the Holocaust or African-Americans during the U.S. civil rights struggle.
The display caused outrage among some pro-abortion students and professors.
Student Ashley James called the display “completely graphic and disgusting”, saying that it was “infringing on my ability to focus and learn, which is what I'm here for,” according to the Winnipeg Free Press.
During the first day of the display on September 23, a pro-abortion student brought forward an “emergency motion” to the Student Union to have the pro-life club stripped of its status so as to shutdown the display. But the Student Union deemed the motion a “non-emergency” at that time, passing it onto a committee for discussion, which resulted in the vote last night.
The emergency motion was brought forward at the same time as the release of a report from the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms that found that 51 percent of Canadian universities have failed to uphold free expression rights on campus. The report gave U of M a “D” for its Student Union free speech policies and an “F” for its practices.
Pearse would like to see the U of M Student Union follow the lead of Brock University’s Student Union, which published a statement last week after university security had to remove by force pro-abortion protesters at a pro-life event.
Brock University Student Union stated that as an organization representing over 17,000 undergraduate students who have “varying opinions, ideologies, religious, political and social views,” its mandate is “not to voice an organizational opinion on such topics,” but to “ensure that students are able to voice their views, thoughts and beliefs in a respectful, organized and safe manner.”
Pearse hopes that U of M will come to a similar conclusion, that they are “representing a wide variety of students.”
“They must therefore welcome events, such as those hosted by pro-life clubs, that encourage open debate and discussion on issues, allowing students of all backgrounds to respectfully share their views,” she said.
U of M Student Union President Al Turnbull
Ph: (204) 474-6519
Email: [email protected]
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