Youth Protecting Youth

Defending the Dignity of All Human Life


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Freedom of Expression Update: New Policy of Censorship

Recent posts have addressed the dangers of euthanasia and informed about the struggles of pro-life students at other Universities. Here is an update on our struggle for freedom of expression.

Clubs at UVic receive a small sum of money each semester to support their activities. The University of Victoria Students’ Society has denied us this funding – that every other club receives – for the past two years on the grounds that putting up a few small, non-graphic posters that challenge the morality of abortion (first and second posters used) constitutes harassment of students. This semester, the UVSS revoked club status entirely, pending a modification of clubs policy, because we continued to put up the posters in addition to holding a very well-attended debate. We protested against such unfair treatment.

In the last week of this semester, we were offered club status. However, the catch is we will eventually have to sign policy that would prevent us from voicing some central pro-life beliefs. This is an act of outright censorship initiated by our ideological opponents. Note Part F – Harassment of the new Clubs Policy: Amended Apr 2010.

We will do everything we can to stop this. We can’t be silenced when so many women are suffering, and so many children are dying.

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Pro-Life Students Facing Expulsion at U of C

UVic isn’t the only place where students who speak the truth are facing consequences; pro-life student activists at the University of Calgary are being threatened with expulsion by the university administration because their club has chosen to use graphic methods to tell the truth about abortion. See this press release for more details:

April 18th, 2010 : FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRO-LIFE STUDENTS FACE POSSIBLE EXPULSION FROM U OF C

CALGARY- The University of Calgary has notified eight of its own students that they are being charged with non-academic misconduct, with a possibility of expulsion, for having set up a pro-life display on campus earlier this month.

Campus Pro-Life (CPL) Club President Leah Hallman stated, “We understand the severity of the charges, but our consciences could not contemplate silence, therefore we must stand by our convictions to fight for the lives of unborn children.”

The group’s Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) display has been held on the University of Calgary grounds without incident eight times since 2006. The GAP display compares abortion to past historical atrocities, such as the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.

“They failed to convince the crown that we were trespassing on our own campus last year so now they want to charge us with ‘non-academic misconduct’ for exercising our right to express our views,” said Peter Csillag, CPL’s Vice-president. “We condemn and will challenge these charges, as we have with all previous attempts at censoring and intimidating us.”

In 2009, the University charged six students with trespassing in relation to the display, but the crown prosecutor stayed these charges prior to a trial scheduled for November of 2009. The University has threatened participating students with non-academic misconduct charges on the occasion of each display, but this is the first time they are following through with their threat.

“Quite frankly, I can’t help but feel like we’re living parts of the novel One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich,” stated Vice-president Cameron Wilson, “it feels almost surreal that we still have to fight this battle on our own campus.”

Campus Pro-Life will be holding a press conference at 10:00am on Monday, April 19th, 2010 outside of the MacKimmie Library Building on the University of Calgary campus to make a formal statement and answer questions pertaining to new developments.

For further information, contact CPL Club President Leah Hallman at (403) 808-3412, Vice-president (external) Cameron Wilson at (403) 668-9624, or lawyer John Carpay of the Canadian Constitution Foundation at (403)
619-8014.


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Posters!

So these are the posters we put up last week. Unfortunately, a lot of them have been torn down (although the Horton ones tend to last longer). Here they are, in case you didn’t get a chance to see them. What do you think?


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Summary of YPY Controversy: 2008 – 2010

Since September 2008, the UVic Students’ Society (UVSS) board has openly and systematically discriminated against us members of Youth Protecting Youth (YPY) because of our beliefs.

Spring 2008

Youth Protecting Youth did a poster campaign (links to posters found below). It was through the Martlet that YPY first found out that some people were offended by the posters. There was no mention of harassment, intimidation, violence, or hate speech, and no formal complaints were made against YPY for posting the posters.

Summer 2008

Youth Protecting Youth applied for, and was granted club status and funding.

Fall 2008

At the first Clubs Council meeting, on 23 September 2008, it was alleged that YPY was not eligible for funding because it was against abortion, and therefore contravened UVSS policy. YPY was given no notice that such a claim would be made against it. The UVSS Director of Services misrepresented Clubs Council policy by permitting the complaints to be made– there is no policy that states clubs must comply with UVSS policy. As a result, Clubs Council voted to deny funding to YPY.

YPY appealed this decision at the following board meeting on October 6th. The UVSS Director of Services argued that the board should not reverse a decision by Clubs Council. The board remitted the question to Clubs Council for reconsideration.

The UVSS Director of Services chaired the October 21st Clubs Council meeting. She permitted fabricated complaints of harassment and discrimination to be made against YPY, even though YPY had not been given the notice required by Clubs Council policy. Representatives from Students for Choice (SfC) accused YPY of promoting violence through its poster campaign. A UVSS director later admitted that YPY was not given the opportunity to defend itself against these accusations. Contrary to UVSS policy, no investigation of the fabricated complaints was undertaken. Clubs Council again voted to deny YPY funding.

On November 3rd, YPY again appealed to the board. The board allowed a repetition of the fabricated complaints against YPY. Four directors affirmed the fabrications, stating that the posters were a form of hate speech, and were threatening and intimidating. Other directors argued that the board should not reverse a Clubs Council decision. The board affirmed the denial of funding.

In November 2008, YPY once again did a poster campaign, this time posting two of the original posters (see poster links below).

Spring 2009

On 10 February 2009, Clubs Council voted to fund YPY. The question had been deferred from a previous meeting, ostensibly to permit attendance of all interested parties and encourage informed decision making. Without having given notice to YPY, the board reversed the decision at their meeting on February 23rd, claiming that the Clubs Council meeting was not procedurally sound, the board should uphold its pro-choice policy and deny funding to an “anti-choice” club, and women once again had complained about the posters. Directors who had previously insisted that the board should not overturn Clubs Council decisions now argued that it should do so.

On March 23rd, the board chairperson arranged for a presentation to the board by a SfC and Women’s Studies representative without informing YPY. With YPY unrepresented, the representative repeated and embellished the fabricated charges of discrimination and harassment.

At a board meeting on 6 April 2009, YPY appealed the reversal of the Clubs Council decision. The board again allowed the SfC and Women’s Studies representative to repeat fabricated claims. The board refused to permit discussion or rebuttal of these claims or consider arguments against its decision, proceeding to affirm denial of funding in an anonymous vote.

Fall 2009

Clubs Council approved status and funding for YPY at a meeting on 29 September 2009. Those opposed to funding claimed that YPY was supporting racism and anti-Semitism because the club was bringing Stephanie Gray of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform to the campus for a debate about abortion.

On 5 October 2009, the UVSS board rejected Clubs Council’s recommendation and refused to approve funding for YPY. Speakers repeated fabricated charges that the club was engaging in harassment and encouraging a hostile and intimidating environment for women. The UVSS board refused funding because it objected to YPY’s plans to host a debate about abortion.

On October 21st, UVic Professor Eike Kluge debated Stephanie Gray. Almost 400 students attended the debate.

At the board meeting on November 16th, YPY appealed the board’s decision to deny it funding. The board once again refused to grant funding.

Spring 2010

In January 2010, YPY posted the two posters used in fall 2008. At the Clubs Council meeting, three letters were read out, each requesting that YPY be denied status, and using the debate and posters as reasons to deny status. Clubs Council voted to refer the decision of denying status for the semester and funding for a year to the UVSS board.

On February 5th, the Martlet hosted a debate on whether or not YPY should receive funding. Students were given the opportunity to come out and hear both sides of the debate, with Joyce Arthur from the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada speaking alongside SfC, and John Dixon from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) speaking alongside YPY.

On February 8th, the board voted to deny YPY funding for a year, and deny status until an organizational development committee meets and decides on a new policy that YPY and all clubs would have to abide by.

After this meeting, YPY requested that the board grant it a special general meeting. A motion was made at the February 22nd board meeting to grant this request, but was voted down.

Posters used by YPY (The third was posted in spring 2008 only):

Poster 1

Poster 2

Poster 3


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University of Victoria Pro-life Club, Youth Protecting Youth, Stages a Free Speech Protest

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:

Poster 1

Poster 2