VANCOUVER, Nov. 27, 2006 – “Behaviour which obstructs free and full discussion, not only of ideas which are safe and accepted, but of those which may be unpopular or even abhorrent . . . cannot be tolerated.” [University of British Columbia,]

Except, it seems, at UBC’s own Okanagan campus. Contrary to the University’s Policy on Discrimination and Harassment, the Student Union at Okanagan campus, which apparently identifies itself as a “pro-choice” body, refuses to register a pro-life club. Registration is necessary for a club to function effectively at the university, since only recognized clubs can post fliers and advertise and hold meetings.

The leader of the pro-life group went to the campus human rights officer, whose web page boasts of her “mission” to ensure that UBC is “welcoming and respectful” and “champions fair treatment and embraces diversity.” Her response was that the Student Union is an independent organization and thus not bound by UBC policies on harassment, discrimination and academic freedom. The Union called a special meeting to vote on whether or not to embrace diversity by welcoming the pro-life club.

Faculty and administration – including the human rights and equity advisor – twiddled their thumbs and looked the other way, and, yesterday, less than 100 of the 5,000 member student body voted to refuse club status to the pro-life group. “UBC boasts that it is preparing students ‘to become exceptional global citizens,’” said Sean Murphy, Western Director of the Catholic Civil Rights League. “They seem to have succeeded. Those UBC students who registered this vote do seem to be the exception. Most people around the globe are struggling for the kind of freedom trashed yesterday at UBC Okanagan. And Canadians the age of these so-called ‘exceptional global citizens’ are risking their lives for it in Afghanistan.”

Murphy is awaiting an answer to a question put to the human rights advisor yesterday. Contractors – who are also “independent” of the university – are expected to adhere to UBC’s policy on academic freedom and discrimination. Those who don’t may be denied access to the campus. Murphy wants to know why UBC demands that its policy be respected by visiting potato chip vendors and plumbers, but not by the UBC Student Union.

Western Contacts: Sean Murphy (BC & Prairies) Ed De Vita (BC Lower Mainland)

Catholic Civil Rights League 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. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.