The Campus Pro-Life club brought their "Genocide Awareness Project" back to campus this week, displaying it on the lawn between Science B and MacEwan Student Center. The GAP uses graphic imagery to compare abortion to historical atrocities such as the Holocaust and Rwandan genocide.
"The goal of a campaign like this is to change public opinion," said CPL president Matthew Wilson. "To show people what abortion is and to make them think about it."
Another campus club, the Feminist Initiative Recognizing Equality, held a counter-protest in front of the display. A petition against the display, claiming it was sexual harassment as defined by the Students' Union, collected over 500 signatures.
Hot debate raged during the two day protest but no violent episodes occurred.
"We didn't expect any incidents based on our security," said Campus Security patrol supervisor Bob King. "Last year there were even more people out debating. This year I think numbers were cut in half."
Many students were offended that the university would allow such an explicit display.
"It is extremely difficult to reconcile the principles of freedom of expression with the highly graphic images in the GAP project on campus this week," said University of Calgary vice-president External Relations, Roman Cooney in a prepared statement. "But whatever one's position on this particular issue, freedom of expression is, and should be, the paramount issue."
Though they promote free speech, the university also noted students' concerns were not unfounded.
"It is, though, the university's view that CPL should exercise this right more responsibly," said Cooney in the statement. "The points raised in objection to the display are taken seriously. But they need to be raised with CPL, which is ultimately responsible for the content of the display."