Youth Protecting Youth

Defending the Dignity of All Human Life

UVSS Takes Action against YPY

7 Comments

In October of 2010 we hosted Jose Ruba of CCBR, who gave the presentation, “Echoes of the Holocaust.” The UVic Students’ Society Board of Directors has now voted in favour of a motion that will censure YPY for hosting the event because they allege that our actions contravened the club harassment policy. YPY is specifically being reprimanded for advertising the event in such a way that it “misled” students, and allegedly harassed them as it compared abortion to the Holocaust. There seemed to be little consensus at the UVSS board meeting as to whether harassment had actually occurred: many board members seemed to think that since people had been upset, something needed to be done to deal with YPY, whether or not we had actually broken any rules.

 

The Motion:

Whereas a Complaints Committee was struck in response to complaints received regarding an event called “Echos of the Holocaust” hosted by the club Youth Protecting Youth; and

Whereas the complaints committee investigated several different complaints; and

Whereas by hosting an event “Echos of the Holocaust” Youth Protecting Youth allowed for people to be misled about the nature of the event and the Complaints Committee deems this to be in violation of the harassment policy, clubs policy part 2; and

Whereas significant concerns were raised by students about off the conduct of campus groups such as, “The Canadian Center for Bioethical Reform”; and

Whereas the UVSS would like to find long lasting, proactive solutions to reoccurring issues; therefore,

BIRT the UVSS investigate the possibility of mediating with Youth Protecting Youth to help prevent further issues; and

BIFRT Youth Protecting Youth be censured for violating the harassment policy found in clubs policy part 2; and

BIFRT the Political Action Committee hold a restorative justice event; and

BIFRT legal counsel be consulted to investigate if there can be changes to policy that would address concerns around the conduct of off campus groups or speakers.

We hosted the presentation because we believe we continue to experience “echoes of the Holocaust” today. Just as the Holocaust and past genocides are characterized by their unjust denial of personhood to a group of human beings and their systematic destruction of this group, so too do we see denial of personhood and systematic destruction with abortion in our society – the group targeted is the unborn. In two previous blog posts we addressed this comparison and the false accusations made about the event.

Yes, we knew that some people would be offended by the presentation. But what are we supposed to do? Stay quiet to avoid offending some people, while we silently watch 100,000 Canadians die every year because of abortion?

Let us remember that feeling offended and emotionally upset because one disagrees with a viewpoint does not mean one is being harassed. After all, no one has a legal right to be free from offense. Students who see and dislike our posters are not being subjected to a “hostile, intimidating, threatening or humiliating environment.[i]” The Clubs Harassment Policy states that harassment is defined as “treatment” of a person. If merely expressing our beliefs in advertising constituted “treating” people in a harassing manner, then no one would be able to express his or her views without fear of censure.

We are truly sorry that some people felt emotional or upset when they saw our posters. But abortion is emotionally upsetting. We do not want any woman or child to be hurt by abortion, and therefore want to provide students with as much information as possible so they can choose life-affirming options for themselves and their unborn children. This presentation was one way to express these beliefs.

The presentation did not pose a threat to anyone who attended; we are all adults capable of choosing for ourselves what we want to believe, and this presentation did not force anyone to do anything. We simply stated that genocide is horrible, the Holocaust was horrible, and we see that abortion is horrible because like the Holocaust and other widely recognized genocides, it involves the denial of personhood to and subsequent killing of innocent human beings. We wish none of these things ever happened, and we want to better uphold the dignity and value of every human being, born or unborn.

It is unfortunate that the UVSS Board of Directors has chosen to censure YPY and thinks it is necessary to mediate with us and host a restorative justice event. Although we welcome and encourage dialogue on the abortion issue, we have not harassed anyone, and so the actions taken by the board are based on a false “guilty” verdict. In addition, we worry that a policy made to govern who can and cannot speak on campus wouldn’t be applied equally to all clubs, and could be used to censor YPY.

The continued mistreatment of campus pro-life groups is still receiving much media attention, as can be seen in this recent MSN article. Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, cautions student unions that attempt to silence pro-life groups, as doing so sets a precedent for future debates. “When they’re approaching this issue, they should not diminish their responsibility toward ensuring that university campuses are places where ideas can circulate freely.”

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7 thoughts on “UVSS Takes Action against YPY

  1. YPY, you are completely in the right. Disagreement is not harassment, and what they are trying to do is unjustifiable censorship, plain and simple.

  2. It is a sad commentary for me to see that a major university campus in Canada is going the way of many liberal campuses in the USA by tolerating all speech except the clearly free speech that they disagree with. I’m praying for your group that God will intervene and shut the mouth of your accusers in the heavenly realm. I’m also praying that free speech will be respected and that TRUE tolerance will reign on the University of Victoria campus.

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  4. Alright, let’s see here:

    “The purpose of Part F: HARASSMENT is as follows:”

    “a. To prevent behaviour by clubs that has the effect or purpose of creating a hostile, intimidating, threatening, or humiliating environment;”
    Your actions did not create create such an environment; rather, they served to expose that which already exists and challenge people to work to correct it.

    “b. To support ideological diversity;”
    Unless, it seems, the ideology in question disagrees with theirs…

    “c. To promote an environment within which all members of the University Community can fully participate in respectful debate and the sharing of ideas;”
    I’ve personally been to a presentation by Jojo, and he is very respectful and mature in his manner and choice of language.
    He also demonstrates a great capacity to accept the fact that others disagree with him and even hate him for the facts he brings to bear.
    Further, he encourages people to argue with him, to dispute him, for he knows as many of us do that it is not through silence that this slaughter will end.

    “d. To create a campus environment that is free of discrimination and harassment”
    They can feel free to set the example for this anytime now.

    Moving on…

    “Harassment is defined as the abusive, unfair, or demeaning treatment of a person or group of persons that has the effect or purpose of unreasonably creating a hostile, intimidating, threatening, or humiliating environment.”
    In calling for an end to the mass murder of children, you’re treating people abusively, unfairly, or in a demeaning fashion? If the culture of death makes you feel that way, maybe you should ask yourself why.
    I do, however, agree that the environment concerning the event would be “hostile, intimidating, threatening, or humiliating”; drawing attention to the murder of millions of children tends to be disconcerting at best.

    “Abuses of the power that one holds over another or the misuse of authority”
    …this didn’t come up in the complaints, did it? What power or authority? To my knowledge, the doors were not locked, nor was attendance mandatory.

    “Behaviour that discriminates against a person or group of persons on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, nationality, religion, family or marital status, physical or mental disability, age, sex, sexuality, gender, gender identity, or conviction for a criminal charge”
    The children being killed are boys and girls, of many races and colours, of many lands and backgrounds, of varying ages, sizes, and development.
    The people killing them are men and women, of many races and colours, of many lands and backgrounds, of varying ages, sizes, and degrees of ability.
    The people suffering for it are all people, all races and colours, of all lands and backgrounds, all ages, all sizes, and all levels of direct involvement.
    That’s the culture of death for you: an equal-opportunity killer that you don’t have to search for; it comes to you.
    By corollary, the pro-life movement, in working to end this global scourge, embodies the exact opposite of discrimination, in that we seek the well-being of all people.

    “Attempting to proselytise members of other religious clubs through membership lists, or during club meetings or other organised functions”
    Yeah, no.

    “Communicating with another person or group of persons by verbal, electronic, telephonic, written or visual means in a manner that harasses”
    This would assume harassment in the first place, so this one falls without the others.

    Now, the next logical step is to turn this around and compare UVSS’ actions to these guidelines.

    Fortunately, it appears that you’ve already done that.

    Personally, I find the title of the presentation to be very fitting. Maybe not entirely poetic, but definitely gets the point across quickly unless you desire to be offended by it.

    From the point of view of the Nazis, Hitler didn’t have them murder the Jews (and others, but mostly Jews); he had them believe they were not truly human, thus reducing the Holocaust to a large-scale pesticide program.
    Indeed, with the common references to the unborn as “parasites”, “tumours”, or the slghtly-more-compassionate “clump of cells” label, the parallels being used for the presentation are evident to all who would see, whether one agrees with them or not.

    Take heart, YPY; the facts are being made known, eyes are being opened, and people’s lives are being spared.
    Injustice has never had a future, making the defence of the present all the more desperate for those who choose to ally themselves with it.

    God bless.

  5. I’m very sad that UVSS reached this decision. I agree with scragsma, that this is unjust censorship. In fact, reading the definition of harrassment, I would say that I felt harrassed at the “Echoes of the Holocaust” presentation – not by Jojo Ruba or any YPY members, but by those who attended the presentation and angrily attacked and yelled at Jojo. I honestly felt like I did not want to speak up at that meeting, even to support Jojo, because others there were so angry and hateful towards him. Is there anything we can do to appeal the UVSS decision?

  6. What an absurd waste of time and energy by the UVSS. As much as I disagree with YPY and their methods, I completely defend the right of any group to raise awareness of their cause and engage in discussion with their detractors. My god people, this is a university, a place where free speech and the exchange of challenging ideas should be cherished and fostered. It’s no good talking about free speech; and then denying someone a voice simply because you think their ideas are not politically correct.

  7. censure: “to find fault with and criticize as blameworthy”

    censor: “to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable ; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable ”

    In CENSURING (not censoring) YPY, the UVSS is basically saying “you hurt people’s feelings, that’s bad!” It doesn’t constitute censorship, and it won’t have any effect on YPY’s actual activity on campus. It’s an expression of disapproval, nothing more, and with YPY’s potential lawsuit hanging over the UVSS, I doubt they’ll ever go any further. YPY’s voice is not silenced. (And praying for God to “shut the accusers mouths in the heavenly realm” is probably a slight overreaction.)

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