Another pro-life club loses campus funding battle

By  Darryl Wilson, Youth Speak News
  • November 20, 2008
{mosimage}VICTORIA, B.C. - After a months-long battle and three hearings, Youth Protecting Youth (YPY) is now part of a long list of pro-life clubs that has been denied funding — this time by the University of Victoria Student Society.

YPY joins a list of “contested” clubs, as the Canadian Federation of Students’ support for student governments against “anti-choice” clubs has resulted in the loss of status or funding for student pro-life groups at Capilano College, the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, Lakehead University and Carleton University over the past year
The funding lost for YPY is estimated at $100-$180 per semester. It still holds official club status and may continue campus activities which include advocacy, postering and bringing guest speakers to campus among other initiatives.

“Essentially, the clubs’ council is able to stonewall any pro-life activity on campus by consistently denying us ratification and/or funding,” said Monica Murphy, president of YPY. “Almost all of our energy this semester has been directed towards appeals, and this unfortunate situation could continue indefinitely.”

The funding was denied after an official complaint was made by the Students Protecting Choice group, which argued that the YPY club was in contravention of the clubs’ policy that demands compliance with student society policies. The society is officially pro-choice. No one from the society was available for comment.

The Choice group alleged that the “Feminists for Life” posters that YPY placed around campus the previous semester promoted “ambient violence” against women, even though the student society had previously approved the posters. The Choice group further stated that the YPY should be denied funding because it is also funded by the Victoria Right to Life society. Victoria Right to Life has links on its web site which lead to other groups including the Centre for Bioethical Reform which, the Choice club alleges, supports violence.

The YPY insists that it is in compliance with the student society policy citing that they support freedom of choice, but hold that the freedom to choose is always accompanied by the obligation to choose well. In the case of abortion, the club recognizes a woman’s freedom to choose, but disagrees with her choice if it is in favour of abortion. The club also recently clarified its stance regarding the re-criminalization of abortion and confirmed that it has no constitutional mandate or intention to advocate for re-criminalization in the future.

“We hope to change hearts and minds rather than laws,” Murphy said. “This approach means that we are more obviously in line with the UVSS policy regarding the implementation of any new abortion law.”

Murphy is adamant that the final decision of the society’s board is an infringement on the right to freedom of speech and an unjust act of power.

“It is the height of irony that they denied us funding because we put up posters that they approved. ‘Ambient violence’ has no basis in Canadian law,” said Murphy.

The YPY has decided to stop appealing for the remainder of the semester but will re-apply for funding in January.

If the group is denied funding again, it will try other options including requesting an appeal through a “special general meeting” of the student body or taking the student society to a human rights tribunal. Murphy suggested that one possible solution might be to operate the club entirely independently.

(Wilson, 24, studies tourism management at Camosun College in Victoria.)

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