By Kathleen Gilbert

GUELPH, Ontario, October 21, 2008 ( – The Central Student Association (CSA) of the University of Guelph decided unanimously to pull accreditation from a pro-life student group, deemed “unsafe to women” due to its promotion of the pro-life message.

The club’s accreditation was pulled in the wake of their “Life Fair,” in which pro-life speakers addressed the audience and pro-life signs and images were displayed. Life Choice describes their group as “committed to proclaiming, celebrating and defending the dignity of all human beings from conception to natural death by educating people about pro-life issues.”

The CSA, which governs the pro-life student group, stated that the pro-life activities of Life Choice were in violation of CSA policy. According to an official CSA memo posted on a student’s blog, these rules state that one of the rights afforded to female students is “the fundamental right of all women to control their bodies,” including “access to safe, reliable birth control and family planning information and the right of choice in the method” and the “freedom of choice choosing one’s stance in the matter of abortion.”

“[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, CSA’s Human Resources Commissioner, told the Ontarion, the university’s newspaper. The CSA claimed that the Fair constituted an “unsafe space” for women due to the “misinformed and/or misleading” information promoted.

Life Choice president Cara Benninger told the Ontarion, “We were really surprised first of all and shocked,” since the group was “careful to follow CSA policy and Human Rights policy.” She said the group was not invited to the meeting in order to defend itself, nor were they alerted that their accreditation status was in question.

Benninger also said that, without accreditation, the club’s hands are tied.  “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,” she said.

According to the CSA memo, the decision falls in line with other organizations in the Canadian Federation of Students, who are uniting in their refusal to support “anti-choice organizations.”

Life Choice plans to appeal the decision at a public meeting of CSA’s board of directors on October 29, at 6 p.m. in the Eccles Centre.

To contact University of Guelph’s CSA:

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