Pro-life club still negotiating space

By Kristopher Schmidt

The debate over the University of Calgary Campus Pro-Life Club’s desire to hold an anti-abortion display is continuing on campus. The controversial display known as the Genocide Awareness Project involves a series of graphic images comparing abortion to historical genocides including the Holocaust.

Earlier this fall, the club submitted a proposal to hold the exhibit on the MacEwan Student Centre south lawn and was unable to reach an agreement with the Students’ Union on the conditions of the event.

“The conditions they put on it compromised the integrity of the project so much that we weren’t willing to do that,” said Campus Pro-Life president Josh Nugent.

SU vice-president operations and finance Joel Lockwood said the project was too graphic for public display but offered to give the club space under restrictions including turning their posters inward. As an agreement could not be reached, the SU has decided to distance themselves from the discussions.

Lockwood said the SU invited the club to discuss the issue with the university administration.

“We won’t have any involvement in it,” said Lockwood, noting the club is now pursuing negotiations with U of C.

“It’s important to resolve the issue and it’s just a matter of being fair,” said U of C VP external relations Roman Cooney. “I don’t think the issue is insurmountable.”

Nugent is skeptical of the administration’s offer, claiming students were banned from campus last year while putting up posters adhering to conditions set out by the university.

“I’ll take that with a large grain of salt,” said Nugent. “They’ve always tried to come across as cooperative and have not really been.”

Nugent also listed similar problems with administration involving road-blocks, searching of cars, and the cancellation of a security guard hired by the club for use off campus.

“If this is an institution about education and open discussion, why has the university tried so hard to prevent that?” asked Nugent.

Cooney, however, said the university will allow the club to hold the event, but only under conditions determined by the U of C.

“We haven’t told them they can’t, so I would argue that to jump to the conclusion that we’re trying to limit free speech is not the case at all,” said Cooney.

U of C administration and Campus Pro-Life are continuing discussions directly with one another and Nugent has indicated he is hopeful for holding the display at the end of March. Regardless of the ongoing debate, all three parties: the university administration, the SU, and Campus Pro-Life are hopeful to resolve the problems.

“It has gone on now for months and I think it’s time for us to resolve the issue and move forward,” said Cooney.


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