VICTORIA, British Columbia, February 4, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The University of Victoria abruptly cancelled an approved event being hosted by the university’s pro-life group, Youth Protecting Youth, the day before it was scheduled to take place.
“In a move that is unprecedented at the University of Victoria, the university administration cancelled ‘Choice’ Chain, an event that Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), the pro-life club, had formally booked,” the group stated in a press release.
Youth Protecting Youth has long been at loggerheads with the university and its student union over their pro-life activism.
Last February the pro-life club was stripped of its right to book public space on campus for their events and specifically forbidden to hold “Choice” Chain demonstrations by the UVic Student’s Society (UVSS).
A “Choice” Chain, is a pro-life display developed by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR), that uses posters depicting graphic images of first-trimester abortions.
However, the group then appealed to the university administration, asking the university to recognize that the UVSS’ decision was censorship of free speech, and to facilitate the booking for another “Choice” Chain.
An initial request to hold a Choice Chain made last November to the university administration was denied by Jim Dunsdon, the Vice President of Student Affairs. He told the group that the request was not submitted ten business days prior to the requested event date.
“Dunsdon told us that he wanted to work with us but that we needed to abide by the university’s policy of ten business days,” YPY said.
YPY said it then submitted another request to book space to hold a Choice Chain last month.
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“We met with the university, worked out the details and received a letter approving the space booking,” said the group.
However, according to YPY, at 4:30pm on Jan 31st, UVic cancelled the event, claiming ignorance of the UVSS’ February decision that revoked YPY public booking privileges.
“Deferring to the Students’ Society, the university said it needs to review the appropriateness of the UVSS’ restrictions on YPY’s activities,” the group stated.
“It is outrageous that the administration of the University of Victoria would claim deference to the student society now,” said Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of the National Campus Life Network, “cancelling the event at the last minute, when it's been over a year since the student society made the decision to censure the pro-life club.”
“The administration ought to be fostering an environment that protects free speech and dialogue rather than contributing to censorship,” said Richmond.