British Columbia student union backs down on censorship of pro-life speech
LANGLEY, BC – The officially “pro-choice” student union at Kwantlen Polytechnic University has backed down after the school’s pro-life club threatened yet again to sue them for illegal discrimination.
The pro-life students’ group, Protectores Vitae, had launched a lawsuit against the Kwantlen Student Association in December 2012 when the association refused to register the pro-life club. The association, which represents students from the university’s four Vancouver Metro area campuses, said that the creation of Protectores Vitae was “clearly against our own standing policy on Abortion and a Woman’s Right to Choose.”
Following the threat of legal action, undertaken on behalf of Protectores Vitae by John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), the association backed down and voted to grant full club status to the pro-life club.
However, in October of 2013, the association introduced a new policy requiring that “any material displayed in the Union building should adhere to the principle of ‘safe space’ … to ‘ensure an accessible environment in which every student feels comfortable, safe and able to get involved in all aspects of the organization free from intimidation or judgement.”
Mr. Carpay explained that under this new policy the association was attempting to censor the expression of any opinion which the association thinks might make students feel “uncomfortable.”
“This effectively prevents all campus groups from promoting any political, religious, cultural or moral perspective if the KSA’s elected representatives disagree with it, simply by declaring that a particular opinion will make someone feel uncomfortable,” he said.
As a result, on November 28, 2013, the JCCF sent a warning letter to the association, demanding that this provision be withdrawn from their new “pro-choice” policy, and again threatening legal action if the policy was used to discriminate against Protectores Vitae or any other campus club.
In a statement issued January 27, Carpay revealed that the association has now passed new motions to change the policy, removing its power to discriminate against campus clubs and controversial opinions.
“It appears, for now, that Kwantlen Polytechnic University is once again a safe space for free speech,” Carpay concluded.
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