TORONTO, ON May 28, 2008 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today criticized resolutions of the York University Federation of Students (YFS) aimed at denying pro-life groups any official status on campus. The move follows its cancellation last spring of a campus debate on abortion.
This is a straightforward attempt to stifle free speech on campus, and particularly troubling since universities are places where our basic freedoms are expected to be particularly upheld and valued. While it’s true that the university administration has criticized the YFS motion and spoken in favour of freedom of speech, this may be a situation where more than talk will be required. Students, prospective students and their families make school decisions on a number of factors, and freedom of speech and inquiry ranks high.
According to a report in The National Post, The school’s administration condemned the decision as contrary to its academic mission, and that it would try to compensate by providing its own venues and resources to legitimate debates. Robert J. Tiffin, York’s vice-president of students, said he was “disappointed” the policy was being enacted when virtually all of the student body has left campus for the summer.
Similar controversies unfolded across Canada over the past year, with pro-life groups at Capilano College, the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, Lakehead University and Carleton University stripped of official club status and funding, at least once by the action of a single member of student council. Some clubs have regained status, while others appealed their cases to human rights commissions.
In the League’s view, these incidents go beyond a curious understanding of free speech by the students involved and suggest they may even fear the merit of what the pro-life groups have to say. So perhaps the fact that human life is present from the moment of conception is getting through after all.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org