Opinions
Jen Grond/the Gauntlet

The coercion factory

How administration is about to permanently tarnish the U of C's reputation

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May 10, 1933, on the Opernplatz in Berlin, the Nazis burnt some 20,000 books from university libraries. This horrific event occurred because the Nazis did not find the books to be in line with their beliefs. This atrocious incident prompted Albert Einstein to move to the United States and later gave reason for countries-- like Canada-- to enshrine freedom of speech in their constitutions.

Academic freedom is at the epicenter of a post-secondary institution. Hence, the birth of tenure, protecting academics from being terminated because their views are not in congruence with administration. Surely, this same academic freedom is extended to its students.

Universities were created to be safe havens for study and debate, a place to provoke thought. The University of Calgary administration's restriction of the Campus Pro-Life group not only violates the main tenant of freedom of thought, but also irreparably tarnishes this wonderful establishment.

Ideas should be left to fight for relevancy on their own merit. Isn't that what the academy is all about? Academics continuously publish papers either disclosing new ideas or contesting others in the ongoing battle for truth in the market of ideas.

Opinions on abortion are irrelevant to this debate. The real question is whether the university administration should have the power of censorship. If this is the case, then the administration must be honest and consider itself a factory of coercion as opposed to a university.

The U of C claims security concerns as the reason for the effective banishment. If so, then simply hire more security. The event has been incident-free the last five times it was organized. The university should focus on providing a safe environment for debate, not harbouring people who spew hate and intolerance.

The moment an institution like a university starts to practice censorship is the instant it loses its moral authority to make that decision.

The people of Alberta, not a cabal of board members, own the University of Calgary. It's time for this lame duck Minister of Advanced Education to stand up and fight for the righteous.

The notion that the university administration can now decide what can and cannot be discussed or debated is simply insane.

The U of C recently began its first ever TV commercial campaign with "come, learn, be inspired" as the main slogan. After the reprehensible actions of the university administration this week, perhaps the marketing team at the U of C should change their slogan to "come, be censored, be uninspired."

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Comments

Please do not confuse the academic freedoms granted through tenure with the right to free speech. They are different issues. Furthermore this is not ACADEMIC censuring. They are not questioning the right of these people to think about pro-Life issues, merely the way in which they are presented. This could possibly be considered a free speech debate.

CPL's right to free speech ends when the rights of many on campus to feel safe from discrimination and hatred are violated.
One look at the posters of CPL can show you just how this display has done precisely that. Images of bloody fetii (miscarriages, actually), naked breasts with tumours on them and holocaust victims are openly displayed to anyone, even children, who happen to pass by this heavy-traffic area. The downright insulting and discriminatory language used by CPL to accompany these images - comparing women who abort to murderers and Nazis, trivializing the pain of Holocaust survivors and even taking a shot at women with breast cancer (!) - serves only to offend even more people.
This had nothing to do with ideology. While I may disagree with the pro-life stance, I believe that the CPL has every right to voice these views. However, I think they are perfectly capable of doing so without resorting to tactics that clearly insult and offend so many people. Yet they didn't even try, after repeated warnings, to tone down the insulting tone of their display. This is why they are now facing legal action.

Kitty, I am afraid that I have to agree with Jesse about this article. I think the university should be a place where you can discuss controversial issues such as abortion in the hopes of attaining truth. This means, unfortunately, that we have to be willing to dialogue and discuss with opinions contrary to our own.

In the same way that CPL could simply 'turn their signs inward' I think that students can 'take a different route'. That is not discriminatory, that is simply reasonable. There are often displays and exhibitions that I don't like displayed in MacHall, however, I know that those who erect these exhibits have a right to express themselves, regardless of my own personal opinion. If abortion is truly morally satisfactory, then you should be confident that history and time will soon dispell with CPL.

Until then, engage them in conversation and you will soon find that they do not compare women to Nazi's, rather they compare the victims of these atrocities. That they do not take a 'shot' at breast cancer, but are trying to raise awareness to potential causes.

I think that only CPL should decide what venue they wish to promote their message in. The rest of us can either try to dicern the morality of abortion through dialogue with them, or look the other way.

Right on, Kitty!

The University of Calgary has made it quite clear that they welcome debate on abortion. In fact, right now CPL has a large display in Mac Hall, and CPL had an "abortion hurts women" talk in a boardroom rented out by the University this thursday! Obviously this has more to do with the appaling tactics taken on by the genocide awareness project than the U of C's wish to stifle debate.

"...you will soon find that they do not compare women to Nazi's, rather they compare the victims of these atrocities"

You can't compare victims without comparing the perpetrators. If you could, it would make as much sense to compare abortion to the Holocaust as to a hurricane. If you believe an act is genocide, then you believe whoever is carrying out that act is carrying out an act of genocide.