The University of Calgary has taken the war against politically incorrect opinions on university campuses to a whole new level.
The University is in the process of charging students with trepassing after the student set up a outdoor display containing graphic images of aborted fetuses.
The group Campus Pro-Life put up a display of the Genocide Awareness Project in a central area of the campus back in November. They did so despite being told by university administration they were not welcome to set-up the display in such a way that unsuspecting passers-by would be exposed to the images. The university also warned the students that legal consequences could follow if they defied the order. Regardless, the students set up their display with the pictures clearly visible to onlookers.
I not a supporter of the display and, frankly, find the equating of abortion to the Holocaust offensive. However, the university administration has a responsibility to tolerate student expression of such opinions. The fact that the university is seeking court convictions of these students shows a willingness to crush unpopular student expression that is unbecoming of an institution dedicated to the ideas of the academy.
The University of Calgary has been steadly climbing in reputation in the last couple of years and has done a wonderful job in creating good graduate programs that are nationally competitive. It was one of the universities I was considering if I decided to continue in political science for graduate studies. An institution that does not cherish free expression, especially when that expression is difficult to tolerate, is an institution that ultimately limits intellectual pursuits. Why would I attend an institution that limits debate?
I’m not disputing that the university has a right to ask Campus Pro-Life to display their pictures in a less intrusive way; that is an expression of an idea. However, it should not be able to use the coercive power of the state against a way of expressing an idea. The university says it doesn’t mind the expression of the idea on the campus, only the method of expression.
Universities shouldn’t allow one method of expression for ideas it agrees with and then deny that same method of expression to an idea it disapproves of.