University of Calgary Students Plead Not Guilty to Trespassing on Their Campus
by Steven Ertelt
March 16, 2009
Calgary, Canada (LifeNews.com) — Six University of Calgary students pleaded not guilty on Monday to trespassing on their own campus. The students were arrested last month and charged last week with trespassing after they set up a pro-life display college officials initially allowed but said they didn’t want shown.
When UC officials warned members of Campus Pro-Life that they had to restrict their own pro-life display, the students refused to comply.
Pro-life advocates at the school have feuded with UC officials for some time about a display that includes graphic pictures.
UC authorities don’t want students, faculty and others exposed to the abortion pictures, so it has instructed members of Campus Pro-Life to turn the pictures inward, which makes them not visible to people walking along the college grounds.
Not only did the students refuse to agree they were guilty of trespassing, Campus Pro-Life president Leah Hallman says the group will be back with another display shortly.
"We have a right to freedom of speech in Canada, and the university has acknowledged that we have the right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom in the past," she said, according to the CBC.
"I am not too sure why they changed their minds. I think it’s because of the nature of the signs, because the signs show abortion for what abortion is," she added about what happened.
University lawyer Paul Beke says the charter doesn’t give the students the freedom of speech rights Americans enjoy.
"Protesters are on the university’s private property and they have refused to follow the university’s instructions," Beke said, according to CBC. "Because they won’t co-operate, they had to give notice to the protesters that they will become illegal protesters. So they will be dealt with legally if they do trespass."
The students aren’t slated to appear in court again until November.
The University of Calgary released a statement saying it "has attempted for several years to find a reasonable compromise with Campus Pro-Life that would give members of the university community the choice to view or not view" the pro-life display.
But Hallman tells Canadian Press that the university is changing its position.
"The university had previously displayed signs saying that our right to be there and to put up the display was protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And then we watched them cover that sign up," she said.
Also last month, the University of Calgary Students’ Union revoked the pro-life club’s official status.
Related web sites:
Campus Pro-Life – http://www.myasoftware.com/~cpl
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