In a move that is unprecedented at the University of Victoria, the university administration cancelled “Choice” Chain, an event that Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), the pro-life club, had formally booked.
This event has been held at UVic before but in a decision last February, the UVic Students’ Society (UVSS) used this as one reason to strip YPY of the public booking privileges that other clubs have. Because of this YPY contacted UVic directly in November, asking the university to recognize the UVSS’ censorship and to facilitate our booking for another “Choice” Chain.
Because the request was not submitted ten business days prior to the requested event date, the space booking was rejected. Jim Dunsdon, the Vice President of Student Affairs, told us that he wanted to work with us but that we needed to abide by the university’s policy of ten business days.
Heeding this advice YPY submitted another space booking request approximately two and a half weeks ago, requesting to book space on the UVic quad from 12:30-2:30pm, February 1st. We met with the university, worked out the details and received a letter approving the space booking. At 4:30pm on Jan 31st, UVic cancelled the event, claiming ignorance of the UVSS’ February decision mentioned above that revoked YPY public booking privileges and ordered that no “’Choice’ Chain or similar events” be held. Deferring to the Students’ Society, the university said it needs to review the appropriateness of the UVSS’ restrictions on YPY’s activities.
Over the course of the protracted campaign of censorship launched against pro-life students at UVic by the Students’ Society, the university has kept its distance, repeatedly claiming that the UVSS is a separate entity and that the university does not have jurisdiction to intervene. Yesterday’s cancellation contradicts this position and disregards one of UVic’s stated fundamental values: “freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry.”
This cancellation is an infringement on our freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; to which the University of Victoria is bound, insofar as it restricts those freedoms, as an institution funded by the Government of Canada.