UVic student union gives in to pro-life club - Macleans.ca

UVic student union gives in to pro-life club

Youth Protecting Youth to be reimbursed for withheld funding going back two years


A lawsuit launched by a University of Victoria pro-life club against the student society has been settled out of court. Youth Protecting Youth (YPY) has had its status as a student group fully restored, and the University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) has agreed to reimburse the group for the funding that has been withheld for two years.

The spat began in October 2008 when the UVSS refused to give YPY the same meagre funding all UVic student clubs receive. Clubs approved by a committee are entitled to $232 each year and such perks as banner supplies and free room bookings. Upon review in 2009, the committee approved YPY. But the students’ society board stepped in and once again revoked the funding. In a meeting, last fall the society’s directors accused YPY of “harassing” female students (although they mentioned no specifics). Although its funding had been withdrawn, it wasn’t until February of this year, that YPY had its status as an official student group revoked.

In May, YPY filed a petition with B.C. Supreme Court seeking restitution for denied funding, reinstatement as a student group, and a removal of policies that defined pro-life advocacy as harassment. In June, the group noted on its website that the student society had agreed to most of its terms, but that YPY was seeking assurances that its status as a legitimate student group, entitled to the funding guaranteed to all other campus clubs would not be threatened again. Towards this end, the UVSS has agreed to allow the lawsuit to stand in abeyance, meaning it can be reactivated at any point in the future if the pro-life club again comes under threat.

YPY received legal counseling and representation from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

With files from Erin Millar


UVic student union gives in to pro-life club

  1. I hope there is a provision to immediately remove the group’s funding and status if they start to harass other students that may want an abortion.

  2. YPY was denied club status and funding not because they ever harassed anyone by any reasonable definition of the term, but because the individuals on the UVSS board itself defined harassment as any public statements questioning abortion or expressing a contrary opinion to those held by the UVVS board. It is a clear free speech issue, which is why the BC Civil Liberities Association, along with other pro-choice groups, were opposed to the UVSS action: Canadian freedoms were indeed coming under threat by a group of neo-fascists who had strangle-hold control of UVVS at the time. Probably the only reason there was a settlement is because the UVic student body tossed out the UVSS board in a recent election: a case of democracy working. What is most disturbing about this whole episode is that a group of Canadian university students- especially in leadership positions – would even think of denying someone the right to express a opinion contrary to their own. These individuals could well go on to be future MPs or city councillors – a very frightening thought. We must all be vigilant when it comes to protecting our freedoms and not take them for granted. It is only when we protect someone else’s right to express an opinion that is unpopular or contrary to our own strongly held views that such a liberty has any value or meaning.

  3. The UVSS “gave in” because a new group of people swept into power in May. They weren’t necessarily loyal to the pro lifers, but they definitely indicated their disagreement with the current status quo on the YPY issue during the election.

    While the fear of lawsuit costs was a big motivator, the simple fact that the composition of the board changed ultimately led to the end of the case. It would be very misleading to think that the UVic Student Society has a consistent position on the YPY issue–it’s position is one that’s been hotly contested politically and is shaped by the various directors serving on its board. This year, the less ideological camp swept the board in what everyone will agree was a very hotly contested election. Maybe the most contested student union election in Canada: http://eyeontheuvss.blogspot.com/2010/03/students-united-defeated-and-other.html

  4. I say let them have the abortions. They will go to hell right? Let God sort it out. Why are pro-life people trying to play God and make his decisions for him? Isn’t that precisely what the pro-life camp is speaking out against? Oh, there I go trying to rationalize the irrational… silly me!

  5. Crock of crap. Pro-lifers did not put man on the Moon.

  6. Dave, I would hope that any campus group that advocates any sort of harassment of people with contrary views would have this happen. But it doesn’t. Free speech is alive and well on campuses for the left, but not the right. I say this as a liberal member of a civil liberties group not as a rightwing extremist.

  7. “Free speech is alive and well on campuses for the left, but not the right. I say this as a liberal member of a civil liberties group not as a rightwing extremist.”

    So, when they banned that poster for Israeli Apartheid Week and cancelled their room bookings, is that not an attack on free speech? How about when George Galloway was unable to speak on campus because he was banned from the country?

    “These individuals could well go on to be future MPs or city councillors – a very frightening thought.”

    Future politicians? We already have politicians trying to shut down Israeli Apartheid Week, ban Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from Toronto Pride, overturn student union elections, etc.