Campus Pro-Life returns

By Sarelle Azuelos

The University of Calgary Campus Pro-Life club may face more charges of trespassing after setting up their Genocide Awareness Project display again this week.

In November, the university asked the group to turn their signs depicting abortions, victims of the Holocaust and Rwandan genocide inwards. After they failed to comply, the university charged the students with trespassing February.

“The university has attempted for several years to find a reasonable compromise with CPL that would give members of the university community the choice to view or not view the Genocide Awareness Project display,” said university administration in a statement released Wednesday. “These efforts, including requests that CPL turn its display signs inward, have been unsuccessful.”

Six students pleaded not guilty to the trespassing charges on March 16 and will be heading to court in November.

“As of now I’m not very worried about it,” said CPL treasurer Alanna Campbell. “We have a strong case for being students and on campus and being allowed to be here.”

The statement released by the university said they will report the incident to the Calgary Police Service, but won’t seek to remove the group or its signs.

“This action would elevate the risk of confrontation and give the organization the publicity it is seeking,” it read. “The university is working to have this issue resolved in an appropriate manner– through the court system.”

CPL president Leah Hallman said campus security approached the group and asked them to leave, but they declined.

“We’re innocent until proven guilty and it would follow that we should continue to act as we always have,” she said.

Some students on campus are angry that the graphic images are back on campus. Feminist Initiative Recognizing Equality president Kat Lord is circulating a petition for CPL to turn their signs inwards. The pro-choice group gathered 200 signatures by mid-Wednesday.

“Its not a form of censorship,” she said. “It’s just an understanding of the fact that those images are very violent and offensive and people should have a choice to view them.”

Lord explained that FIRE did not object to CPL’s right to freedom of expression, only the method in which they display it. She asked for the university to publish information on where students and faculty feeling victimized can go for help.

“It’s unfortunate because it’s a case of two rights in opposition to each other,” she said. “So which right prevails, the freedom of speech or the freedom to security of person? It’s an issue that continues to go unresolved.”

The Womens’ Resource Centre declined to comment.

“This is not an issue about Freedom of Speech; the paramount issues for the university are the needs to uphold its legal right to manage activities on campus, and to ensure the safety and security for the thousands of students, staff, faculty and community members on campus each day,” said administration.

The CPL is also going through an appeal process with the Students’ Union to maintain its club status. The SU clubs committee ruled that CPL violated SU policy by violating university bylaws, but failed to specify which ones. The group will stay an SU club as the appeal progresses. A decision should be reached in two weeks.

Leave a comment