Earlier this week in Ottawa, the Carleton University Students’ Association rescinded the official club status of Carleton Lifeline, a  campus pro-life club saying that Lifeline’s opposition to abortion violates the student union’s Discrimination on Campus Policy which (for some reason) includes upholding  “a woman’s right to choose.” In a letter to the club, CUSA said that it would reconsider its decision if Lifeline amended its constitution to acknowledge  “a woman’s right to choose.” LifeSiteNews.com reports that several members of CUSA are rethinking their heavy-handed, hypocritical and undemocratic move. This story is far from over and we will continue to cover it, both at Carleton and at other Canadian universities where pro-life clubs continue to be harassed and ostracized by both student unions and administration.

This persecution of pro-life students will continue until universities respect the free assembly and free speech rights of pro-life students. One way to accomplish this would be extremely costly: legal victories in the courts. Another strategy could include boycotts by pro-life families of universities that harass and ban pro-life clubs. Stephen Hughes, curriculum chair, guidance and co-operative education, at Archbishop Denis O’Connor Catholic High School in Ajax, Ont., has another idea, as expressed in a letter to the editor  in the National Post: tell such universities they are not welcome to recruit students at Catholic schools (and, I would add, private Jewish and Christian schools). Hughes writes:

I was greatly dismayed to read about the decision by Carleton University to decertify Carleton Lifeline. As written in the headline, this anti-abortion club has been told: “Stay off campus.”

Each year Carleton calls our guidance department, asking to come to our school to promote itself and encourage students to attend Carleton. Perhaps it is time for all Catholic schools in Ontario to respond to further requests by stating: ‘Stay off our campus.’

Every Roman Catholic separate school board in Ontario, as well as every independent Christian and Jewish school, should let Carleton know that they are not allowed to distribute recruitment material in their schools and that guidance counsellors will actively discourage students from attending Carleton. Even if school boards do not have the courage to draw this line in the sand, individual counsellors and teachers can refuse to cooperate with Carleton (or any other university that bans or harasses pro-lifers) in their recruitment of students. Catholic bishops could encourage this sort of pushback against universities. In Ontario, approximately one-third of high school students attend Catholic schools; can universities afford to alienate one in three potential students (consumers)?

It is time for bold action. As Karen Stiller notes at Activate CFPL, Dalhousie University in Halifax was trying to make life miserable for the founders of a pro-life club on campus there 25 years ago. We should not tolerate another quarter-century of universities trying to silence pro-lifers.