University of Toronto: Pro-Life Club Materials Banned from Frosh Kit but Gay Club Flyers OK

No clear reason given for Student Administrative Council reversing agreement to include mild pro-life material
Tue Aug 22, 2006 - 12:15 pm EST

By John-Henry Westen

TORONTO, August 22, 2006 ( - Every year the University of Toronto’s Student Administrative Council (SAC) hands out a “frosh kit” to new incoming students. This year, some 6,500 first-time students at the University of Toronto will receive such a kit, but the kit will not include pro-life materials from the official pro-life club even though club promotional materials are normally permitted in the kits.

Santosh D’Souza, Director of External Communication of University of Toronto Students for Life, told that his pro-life club initially obtained permission from SAC authorities to have their material put in the frosh kits. In fact, the group had made five phone calls confirming with SAC officials. The pro-life group thus went ahead leaving thousands of copies of a pro-life pamphlet with SAC and had printed 6,500 brochures. The group even volunteered some of its members to help with kit stuffing.

However when the volunteers arrived with their newly printed brochures and to help in the effort to stuff the kits, they were informed that “upper management” had decided to refuse them permission for the pro-life materials in the kit. Inquiring, the pro-life group learned that “upper management” referred to SAC president Jen Hassum and SAC general manager Rick Telfer. spoke with Hassum, who initially said that she could not speak about the situation since there was the threat of a lawsuit. On the matter of putting material from student clubs into the kits, Hassum told, that while such submissions were accepted there was a problem with certain issues.“Sometimes we’ll accept groups to put information in (the kits) information about themselves and whatnot, but like what we don’t accept is like you know um issues that like - issue things, right,” she said.“So it’s like in the past we’ve actually uh not allowed the uh, you know certain political groups to put things in because we didn’t want that to be the representation of the student union. Obviously, right?”

Asked if the campus Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered (GLBT) club was permitted to put materials into the frosh kits, Hassum replied, “Uh, yeah like clubs can put things in.” However when asked about the controversial nature of GLBT clubs she noted, “It’s not the clubs that are the hot button issues.”

What exactly the issue was with the pamphlet, Hassum did not divulge, however she did acknowledge that the pamphlet in question was the “Did you Know” pamphlets which had been left at the SAC office.

D’Souza told that Hassum had informed him that the pamphlet was “too graphic” which led D’Souza to doubt Hassum had even seen the pamphlet. The pamphlet contains no graphic photos whatsoever. The front shows a head and shoulders shot of an attractive woman in her late teens and the opposite side depicts a photo of a newborn baby. (see photos)

Strangely, when D’Souza pressed to have the pamphlets included in the kits, he was informed that the pamphlets had been lost. However, when spoke with Hassum she noted that she was looking at one of the pamphlets at the time.

Asked specifically why controversial GLBT materials would be permitted in the kits and not the pro-life materials Hassum said she could not comment and alleged that she was yelled at by the pro-life students group.“I was going to meet with this group, but like they just called me up and yelled at me and threatened lawsuit,” she said.

D’Souza, told that he neither yelled at her nor threatened a lawsuit. He did however ask for the decision of the SAC in writing so he could look at legal options. He was immediately asked if he were going to sue to which he replied that he was not planning on suing but looking into whether University policies were being violated.

  Side 1 of the flyer (pdf format)
  Side 2

To express concerns:
  Contact University of Toronto President David Naylor
[email protected]

Contact SAC officials:
  Jen Hassum
[email protected]

Rick Telfer
[email protected]

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