The University of Alberta “Go-Life” Club and John Carpay of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are taking on the University of Alberta for not only failing to protect the club’s freedom of expression but for suppressing it. They are seeking an injunction requiring the university to do its duty and enforce its own Code of Student Conduct.
“We insist that students engaged in a lawful demonstration have a right to be protected by the university from mob censorship by protesters,” Carpay told LifeSiteNews. “The university’s code of conduct forbids interference with lawful campus events.” The plaintiffs accuse the U of A of “condoning vandalism, obstruction, disruption, and other violations of (the) Code.”
As for those who insist that freedom of expression includes the right to prevent others from being seen, heard or read, Go-Life president Amberlee Nicol told LifeSiteNews, “I’m happy for them to express their opinions. But freedom of expression means people can hear both sides.” By ignoring the protests, she added, “The University of Alberta has condoned the suppression of our free expression rights on campus throughout the 2014-15 school year.”
At issue are the university’s handling of security for three club events last year. It distributed 3,000 signs costing $280 to advertise them but these were swiftly torn down by students who bragged about their actions or were identified in the act. The university’s response was to find one guilty of misconduct and fine him $50, but to require none to make compensation. Nicol termed this “a slap on the wrist.”
In the second case university security stood idly by as pro-abortion students, staff or non-university persons staged a counter-protest that obscured Go-Life’s graphic imagery of aborted babies and physically prevented Go-Life volunteers from talking to students passing by or made their conversations impossible with chants and megaphone ranting.
The final complaint is that the university’s requirement that the Go-Life club pay for a security guard at a third event is an act of selective discrimination.
In the first two instances Go Life identified many of those involved, both by their Facebook boasts and by Go Life’s video clips. But aside from the single $50 fine, no disciplinary action has been taken.
“Any kindergarten kid knows the difference between drawing your own picture and covering up the picture of another child. Yet on campus we hear from young adults that these two things are the same freedom of expression,” Carpay said.
As for the fee for a security guard, “This is content discrimination,” he said. “When the university refuses to provide security only for some, unpopular events, it is a way to suppress them.” All that opponents have to do to shut down an event is create the rumour of a protest, he explained, to trigger the university into requiring students, “who we know are poor,” to pay for a security guard, and the event is effectively prohibited. “It is censorship by threat.”
The University of Alberta provided LifeSiteNews with this statement on the lawsuit: “The University believes that its response to the events in March 2015 were appropriate, balanced and based on established policies and procedures. As this matter is now before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
This article originally appeared Oct. 1 at LifeSiteNews and is used with permission.