The campus pro-life club at the University of Guelph, Ont. was banned without prior notice in October. After being informed of the reasons the Central Student Association (CSA) banned them, the club appealed the decision at a meeting on Oct. 29. There were over four hours of heated discussion and no conclusion was reached. Instead, a motion was made to postpone any decision until the hired external chair can be present.
The next week, Joel Harnest, CSA finance and human resources commissioner, contacted the group to offer to meet and discuss “limited accreditation.” According to Harnest, this could mean “only being allowed to hold events in private settings, advertising only according to CSA poster runs or having no graphic elements on posters, like a fetus, for example.”
Life Choice is continuing to appeal the decision at a Nov. 26 meeting because the conditions offered to the pro-life club, if they were agreed to, would severely inhibit its effectiveness and message. By placing conditions on one club, but not any others, says Life Choice, the CSA is discriminating against students who are pro-life.
The event that put Life Choice in question was a “Life Fair” in March 2008. The fair included a day where community pro-life organizations have booths in the student centre to provide life-affirming resources for women facing unexpected pregnancies. Brenda Whiteside, vice-president of student affairs, was present during that event. She explained: “There was concern about material being presented in contravention of human rights policy … That day was similar to other days when contentious issues were being discussed. There is a delicate balance between freedom of expression and creating hostile environments.”
The event was never shut down and concerns were not brought to Life Choice until after the new school year began and the decision to ban them was made.