York U. student council taken to task for lack of tolerance

By 
  • July 10, 2008

TORONTO - A York University campus group has launched a formal complaint to the school about the York Federation of Students (YFS), which denied the group space to hold a debate on abortion in March.

In its complaint, under the York University Student Code of Ethics, the Students for Bioethical Awareness (SBA) also address its concern with the motion passed by the Canadian Federation of Students that promised support for any member union that would like to deny resources or space to pro-life student groups.

A spokesman for the SBA, which is not explicitly a pro-life group, said the York federation should not have had the right to prevent the debate from happening in the student centre. The SBA oraganizes debates and discussions on a variety of topics related to bioethics.

Although the university later gave the group an alternate space on campus for the debate, the SBA contends that having to go to a higher power was deplorable.

“I hope that the YFS and Gilary Massa will practise what they preach about with regards to tolerance because they don’t seem tolerant,” said the spokesman. “We are just an educational group.”

In June, the federation unanimously voted to to deny resources and funding to student clubs or individuals “whose primary or sole purpose is anti-choice activity.”

Massa, vice president of the YFS, told The Catholic Register at that time the decision would not affect any club’s ability, including the SBA, to apply for and gain club status. She said the debate was cancelled because it was offensive to many women, which followed the school government’s mandate to work on an “anti-oppressive framework” and on serving minority communities.

However, the SBA is angry that students are “forced to support an organization that (we) personally don’t support.” Students are automatically charged $7.20 on top of their tuition each year by the CFS.

Theresa Matters, executive director of National Campus Life Network, said the administration needs to realize how negatively the CFS’s decisions affect campuses.

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