University of Calgary Issues Warning to Pro-Life Students Over Abortion Display

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 10, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

University of Calgary Issues Warning to Pro-Life Students Over Abortion Display

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 10
, 2010

Calgary, Canada ( — University of Calgary officials stopped short of expelling the pro-life students who refused to succumb to their requests to take down a display opposing abortion. Instead, campus officials issued a formal warning to eight members of Campus Pro-Life.

They promised stiffer sanctions on the students if they put up a similar display in the future and found them guilty of non-academic misconduct.

The group put up the display on April 8, and was asked by campus security to turn the graphic abortion images inward so no one could see them. The students snubbed that request and refused to leave campus, according to the university’s letter.

The pro-life students group issued a statement saying they will challenge the verdict.

"We did not break a single university bylaw or regulation, and so we will defend ourselves accordingly. We will also not cease exercising our rights to free speech just because they’re threatening us," club president Alanna Campbell said.

"I’d rather be expelled as a principled person than graduate a coward."

The college charged members of the Campus Pro-Life group last year with criminally trespassing on their own campus to stop them from speaking out against abortion.

Those charges were later withdrawn. Now, after putting up a new display the university threatened to expel them.

The eight students received letters from the school earlier this month advising that they had violated the non-academic misconduct policy. Two students had a hearing now and the rest get hearings on Friday.

The university went ahead with a hearing on the matter last week giving the students no chance to present their side. Asia Strezynski and Ryan Wilson met individually with the university’s vice-provost and ombudsman, according to Global News, to establish the facts for a future hearing.

"They already knew what the facts were. We weren’t going to dispute those facts," Wilson told the news service. "They were unwilling to even talk about whether these charges are legitimate."

Strezynski told GN she asked acting associate vice-provost Meghan Houghton whether the campus security was doing their duty by asking the students to take down the pro-life display, but was told that she was not within her right to ask such a question.

"I find that troublesome because she’s the one who makes this decision; she should know whether that is a legitimate request and not make a decision based on what she’s been told and what impression she got of me," Strezynski said.

University representative Grady Semmens would not comment on the hearing "because all misconduct hearings and issues are confidential."

John Carpay, of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, is offering the students legal representation and said any discipline can be appealed to a five-person panel.

"It’s unfortunate they’re not even allowed at this stage to argue that censorship is not one of the duties of campus security," he told Global News.

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