On March 2nd, members of Youth Protecting Youth increased campus awareness of the censorship being applied to their message of life. View earlier posts to learn about YPY’s struggle for free speech and reasons for protesting.
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:
YPY protests against unequal treatment, censorship and discrimination on the basis of belief today. Our voices are being silenced, as are the voices of the unborn. This is our message to the campus and community:
We are Youth Protecting Youth, a group of pro-life students from the University of Victoria who are being censored.
This is the fourth semester in the past two years that we have been denied club funding.
This semester we were also denied club status.
The Canadian Federation of Students has stated that they will support “member locals that refused to allow anti-choice organizations access to their resources and space.”
The UVic Students’ Society is acting on this discriminatory statement and sending a clear message that UVic is no place for students who hold differing beliefs.
It’s March 2nd, and Youth Protecting Youth is still being denied its right to freedom of speech. We respond today by staging a peaceful protest at UVic. See the following documents for more information about the censorship applied to YPY.
These statements by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association reflect the position they held when our funding was taken away. Our status has since been revoked as well in an escalation of suppression.
The BCCLA also demonstrated their support for Youth Protecting Youth’s free speech with this letter:
Today, Youth Protecting Youth attended a meeting of the Organizational Development (OD) Committee that has been tasked with making changes to clubs policy.
On February 8th, the UVic Students’ Society (UVSS) Board of Directors revoked YPY’s status until this OD Committee presents policy changes to the Board which will then decide whether or not to grant status to YPY. In the same motion, the Board revoked funding for one year. The original motion would have applied an exclusive policy to YPY, but it was amended to make all clubs subject to OD’s policy changes.
We attempted to appeal this decision (as described in the last post) because it restricts our members’ freedom of expression by denying them funding and recognition based on their beliefs. Indeed, the OD process was initiated as a result of bogus accusations of harassment and hate-speech. We maintain that we have been wronged.
However, the UVSS decided that their clubs policy needs to be changed, and YPY supports the idea of providing a more specific, non-discriminatory policy that can be applied to all clubs. We attended the OD meeting today in that spirit, and may continue to do so. Regrettably, YPY’s status depends on the committee’s outcome, and many committee members intend to insert specific clauses in policy that would address pro-life groups in particular.
The UVSS’ decision to penalize YPY is still absolutely unwarranted, and the OD process is in danger of becoming an investigation into how to silence pro-life on campus completely.
At the UVSS meeting on February 22nd, Youth Protecting Youth was denied its appeal of the UVSS’ decision to withdraw funding and status pending the result of an Organizational Development Committee, and was denied its request for a Special General Meeting to allow students to vote on the issue.
Watch for further developments and background information about YPY’s free speech battle from YPY’s official blog.
Erin Millar from Maclean’s is keeping her readers up to date on YPY’s free speech struggles with these articles:
The Times Colonist featured YPY in early February:
So did The Vancouver Sun:
The Martlet, UVic’s weekly student newspaper, has published numerous articles about YPY. This article is one of the most recent:
David Foster has been diligent in documenting the UVSS’ actions against YPY in his student politics blog, Eye on the UVSS:
Lastly, the controversy that has surrounded the UVSS and YPY is discussed colorfully in the most recent edition of The Fish Wrap, a publication from the University of Victoria’s Engineering Students’ Society. Copies can be found in the ELW.
A-Channel reported on YPY’s struggles for free speech twice earlier this month:
Shaw TV aired a similar news story about YPY at the same time.