On Tuesday, March 2nd, University of Victoria pro-life club, Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), will be holding a free speech protest. The protest will take place from 11:30 to 1:30 outside of the Student Union Building at the University of Victoria (UVic).
The students will be protesting the fact that club funding has been withheld from them for four semesters in the past two years. This semester, after heated discussion, a motion was passed to deny them club status. The club attempted to call a Special General Meeting of undergraduate students to appeal this decision, but their request was denied by the UVic Students’ Society Board of Directors (UVSS).
This semester, YPY once again put up posters from an organization called Feminists for Life. These posters have sparked controversy in the past, and have led to YPY’s current denial of status and funding. The club, however, maintains that while the posters may be controversial, they do not constitute harassment, as has been alleged. Thus, they do not merit the removal of club status and funding.
The message YPY hopes to send is that their right to free speech is being infringed upon.
“In a society with true freedom of speech, people are going to be offended sometimes,” says Anastasia Pearse, president of YPY. “Just because some people disagree with or are offended by a message does not mean it constitutes harassment or is worthy of censorship.”
YPY members believe their message is of utmost importance: if what they say is true, hundreds of innocent human beings are being killed every day in our country. The club seeks to uphold the dignity of all human beings, from the earliest stages of life onwards – including, of course, pregnant women. The posters that have caused so much controversy advocate for better support for pregnant women and mothers in difficult situations.
The university should be a place for open and respectful discussion. This discussion is halted when one side is reprimanded for expressing their views. Through their censorship of YPY, the UVSS is sending a clear message that freedom of expression does not extend to students with unpopular or controversial views.
Links to the posters used by YPY: