Five students, four from Carleton University, and one from Queen’s University, were arrested this week and charged with trespassing after attempting to display a peaceful pro-life protest in a public area on the Carleton university campus. Once again, the truth of the pro-life message is being silenced, this time by the university administration. The press release below comes from the National Campus Life Network, and includes a link to video footage of the arrests. In the past, Youth Protecting Youth has also had issues with freedom of speech and the University of Victoria Students Society, though these issues were not with the university administration and the issues were dealt with this past summer through legal action. Although it is extremely upsetting that students can be arrested for a peaceful protest on a university campus, the greater tragedy is that preborn children are still being killed through the act of abortion everyday, and that this process is still legal in Canada through all 9 months of a pregnancy.
CARLETON UNIVERSITY CONTINUES TO BULLY STUDENTS
Carleton Communicates Misleading Statements to Public
October 6, 2010. Ottawa. One day after Carleton University had Ottawa police arrest 5 students for attempting to peacefully express their views on abortion, a flurry of reports raise questions about whether the students are demanding something not allowed of other students. Footage can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeJkBQn1-r8
University representatives have been reported as stating that no students are allowed to set up displays in the Quad, the area that the pro-life students selected for their signs.
Ruth Lobo, President of Carleton Lifeline, and one of the students arrested, responded: “The university is misleading the public by making it seem as though we are demanding special treatment instead of equal treatment, but that’s not true.”
She explained that their booking request was made several months ago and at no point between then and now did the university communicate to the students, or their lawyer, that the Tory Quad is not bookable space for students.
“Why is the University now claiming the Quad is not bookable space?” asked James Shaw, club Vice President. “We have done extensive research on the policies of the university and see no evidence of their claims that the space isn’t bookable. In fact, we see the opposite. If, as they’re now claiming, the Quad is not bookable, we should have been told in the summer when we were filling out the application form. That would have been a very simple answer to give, and a much easier one.”
According to the Booking-Space-On-Campus Policy, Tory Quad is listed as bookable space for recognized student groups, which includes Carleton Lifeline. Further, the policy does not place restrictions on display size or content.
According to David Sterritt, who is the Head of Housing and Conference Services at Carleton, the reason for denying the use of the Quad was based on content. On August 9, 2010, Sterritt wrote the club,
“While we wish to provide your group with an opportunity to express itself freely on this matter, we are also aware that The Genocide Awareness Project uses promotional materials which are disturbing and offensive to some. To this end, we are prepared to offer your group the use of Porter Hall.”
Porter Hall is a closed room on campus that few students pass by and many are even unaware of its location.
“It’s clear by their direct communication to us,” said Lobo, “that this is content-based discrimination. This censorship should concern everyone, regardless of one’s views on abortion.”
Shaw added, “First the university has us arrested for peacefully exercising our academic freedom and free speech rights. And now they’re coming up with excuses for their bad behaviour that they never communicated to us. Shame on Carleton.”
Carleton Lifeline continues to stress that the right to free speech does not exist so much as to maintain mainstream views but more so to protect unpopular opinions like theirs, especially on a university campus.
Lobo said she finds it appalling the university would “mislead the public by making the arrest look like we violated university policy instead of what it really was: that Carleton censors opinions on campus thereby violating their own policy of academic freedom.”
Below is Carleton University’s Human Rights Policies and Procedures- relevant section is Part 1 General Article 4:
Below is Carleton University’s Booking-Space-On-Campus Policy- Relevant sections are Section 1 and Appedix A.: