[Note: Today’s post comes courtesy of our first guest-blogger, Anastasia Pierce, from University of Victoria’s pro-life club, Youth Protecting Youth. We encourage you to visit their site.]
by Anastasia Pierce
As university students we are in the very environment that should encourage freedom of expression as students search for truth and knowledge. To quote one free speech advocate, “In order to get the truth, conflicting arguments and expression must be allowed. There can be no freedom without choice, no choice without knowledge.” We should be respectful of other’s ideas, and free to debate them. Unfortunately these concepts were recently overlooked at the University of Victoria (UVic).
Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), UVic’s pro-life club, has experienced two years of discrimination and censorship because some students felt offended by our message. During this time we were repeatedly denied club funding. This past spring the situation escalated to a point where we were denied club status and policy modifications were made that specifically targeted pro-life advocacy.
The controversy was triggered in spring 2008 when we posted some posters from an organization called Feminists for Life. We continued to distribute the posters, and have been denied funding ever since for having displayed them.
Because of the controversy we decided to host a debate where both sides could present their views on the abortion issue. In fall 2009 Stephanie Gray from the Canadian Centre of Bioethical Reform debated UVic’s philosophy professor, Dr. Eike Kluge. However, this debate stimulated further controversy, leading to a denial of club funding that fall and withdrawal of club status in Spring 2010. Despite multiple appeals to our student society, no changes were made. Therefore, this past May YPY filed a lawsuit against the UVic Student Society.
We are happy to say that after two months of legal consultation, the case was recently settled out of court. The UVic Student’s Society now recognizes YPY as a club, has granted us funding for the summer semester, has repaid all funds wrongly withheld since fall 2008, and has eliminated the discriminatory policy. They have also agreed to an unusual condition that allows YPY to hold the petition in abeyance indefinitely, making the process required to reinitiate legal proceedings quicker and easier, should it become necessary.
This resolution is a great step forward for pro-life students. We are pleased that UVic once again recognizes the importance of free speech, and respects the varying ideologies that should be welcomed on a university campus. We hope this will set an example for other universities as they encourage dialogue amongst students in the pursuit of truth and knowledge.
YPY will continue to encourage respectful discussion on the abortion issue, and boldly proclaim our message. Inevitably there will be further challenges, but it will not stop us from proclaiming the truth.
In the words of Winston Churchill, “The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”
The truth we must share on our university campuses is that 300 innocent human beings die every day in our country from abortion, and many women and men are hurt by it. This unfortunate truth will not change unless we speak up and educate students about the reality of abortion, and support pregnant women with other life-affirming options.
No matter how much people dislike our message, and penalize us for sharing it, we must continue to proclaim the truth as we share our message with students and protect the most innocent and vulnerable in our society: unborn children.