A gendercide presentation to be given by Mike Schouten, campaign director of WeNeedALaw.ca, to UFV Life Link on April 10 at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia, has been censored due to what the student union claimed were security concerns.
In the end, a compromise was reached when UFV allowed a by-invitation-only private meeting to take place with Schouten. Around 13 people attended, including UFV Student Union Society president Shane Potter. The club, which has obtained legal counsel from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, will not sue if the event that was initially booked on March 20 will be allowed to take place next semester.
On April 5, UFV Life Link received an email from Jill Harrison, manager of student life, stating that “the date will have to be postponed” or the event could take place off campus. This was due to “security issues and the lack of a risk management plan,” including worries about “potential protesters.” Harrison also advised that “your planning committee should work with institutional partners and have a desire to create an event that provides a balanced view of the issue at hand.”
Student Union vice president students Jody Gordon told The Cascade, the campus newspaper, that the university did not know that there would be an external speaker and external advertizing until late in the week before the event. Ashley Bulthuis, president of of UFV Life Link, said that not all the details about the presentation were given to the administration when it was first booked in March, but that she emailed the name of the speaker and more information to Student Life programmer Martin Kelly on April 2. Gordon said the UFV’s Student Union Society brought to light a planned protest the Friday before the event.
UFV Life Link initially said in a statement that the event was effectively shut down until September since the semester is ending and students are writing exams. UFV Life Link asked why “a risk management plan could not have been discussed when the event was booked three weeks ago or even in the last few days, after the university became concerned about potential protesters.”
In a press release, Bulthuis said, “our club has distributed resources, held a debate and organized other presentations on abortion.” She added: “A documentary on gendercide has even been screened on campus this year. Why has the university suddenly disregarded its commitment to free speech in regards to the gendercide and abortion issues?”
UFV Life Link was previously censored from distributing anti-gendercide resources created by the National Campus Life Network that showed a pregnant woman’s stomach and information about gendercide. The material was banned from being posted in the hallways by the university; their content was restricted to a closed room, which led the group to cancel its literature distribution in March.
A letter dated April 8 from John Carpay, president of the JCCF, to University of the Fraser Valley president Mark Evered, stated that Life Link will initiate legal proceedings if the presentation is not allowed to take place and if its literature remains censored.
Carpay’s letter cites court precedents and UFV’s own regulations which protect all students’ freedom of speech. UFV’s “Statement of Institutional Ethics” states, “members of UFV have academic and artistic freedom, which includes the freedom to investigate controversial views, to hold unpopular positions on controversial issues, and to present in class and in the wider community one’s controversial views.”
Carpay said, “if a university implements a policy of cancelling events the moment it learns that protesters might be present at an event, the university is no longer a safe space for the peaceful expression of a broad range of diverse opinion.” He continued: “As a public body exercising statutory authority to carry out a public function, UFV has a legal obligation to serve all students fairly, without discrimination based on a student’s views, opinions, beliefs or philosophy.”