Canadian Student Group Forced Off Campus for Pro-Life Views
Posted by faithandthelaw on November 18, 2010
A Canadian student pro-life club may disappear from campus after the governing student association ruled its pro-life constitution discriminates against pro-choice beliefs.
Carleton University’s Student Association has given pro-life club Carleton Lifeline an ultimatum: Change your constitution to embrace pro-choice values by Thursday or lose your certification as a campus club.
“It is ironic that they support choice and do not see that they not having an abortion is a choice,” Ruth Lobo, a student of the Ottawa school and president of Carleton Lifeline, told the National Post.
In the CUSA’s letter to the club, Khaldoon Bushnaq, vice president of international affairs, noted in an e-mail sent Monday that Carleton Lifeline’s constitution states “abortion is a moral and legal wrong.” By contrast, the CUSA holds that it supports a woman’s right to choose abortion and does not support efforts to limit or remove that choice.
“As a result, the club Carleton Lifeline cannot gain certification in that it had failed to provide a ‘written constitution, not in contravention of the CUSA Constitution, Bylaws, or Policy Manual,’” Bushnaq wrote.
Albertos Polizogopoulos, Carleton Lifeline’s attorney, said losing club certification will make it harder for the group to operate on campus. No certification means no university funding.
“They will not be allowed to book space to hold events and meetings on campus. They will not be listed in the campus list of clubs,” explained Polizogopoulos.
Campus certification is not the only problem for Carleton Lifeline. Five members of the group are also facing criminal trespassing charges after they tried to stage a genocide awareness display on campus grounds in early October.
The display was that of the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), a traveling photo-mural exhibit sponsored by the Center of Bio-Ethical Reform. The mural juxtaposes abortion images with those of genocide. The GAP’s goal, as expressed on their website, is to expand “the context in which people think about abortion.” The project has traveled to several universities.
Carleton Lifeline sent the university a letter requesting permission to host the GAP outdoors. It was sent a letter permitting them to host the project indoors in, as Polizogpoulos described it, a secluded room.
Members of the group tried to hold the event outdoors, in conjunction with The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and were promptly arrested and carried off to jail.
“The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of expression and prohibits discrimination on the basis of political beliefs,” asserted Polizogopoulos.
He says Carleton University, a government-funded school, must adhere to this right and also their own policy with similarly protects political speech.
As of now, Carleton Lifeline has not changed its constitution. Instead, Polizogopoulos says the group plans to appeal the CUSA’s decision through a process established by the university. Polizogopoulos is also representing the group in court. The students involved face possible fines for their activities.