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."