Campus Pro-Life, a Student Union sanctioned club at the University of Calgary, has been setting up the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) on campus twice per year since 2006. For more information on GAP see unmaskingchoice.ca.
In the spring of 2008, after GAP had been set up on campus without problem or incident on four occasions since 2006, the UofC suddenly demanded that the students set up GAP with the signs facing inwards such that no passersby could see the signs. The U of C described its demand as “a reasonable compromise.” The U of C threatened the students with trespassing charges and with charges for non-academic misconduct – with the possibility of expulsion from the university – if the students failed to comply with this new demand.
The students set up the GAP display twice in 2008, for two days in the spring and again for two days in the fall. In the fall, Campus Security took down the personal information of the students participating in the display.
In January of 2009, Calgary Police officers, went to the homes of students individually, and charged each student with “trespassing” for having been involved with the GAP display on campus two months earlier.
In March of 2009, the students attended at Provincial Court and entered a plea of “not guilty” to the trespassing charges. A trial date was set for November 2009. Two days before trial, the Crown Prosecutors stayed the charges and so no trial was needed.
In April of 2010, the students set up GAP for two days. This was the ninth GAP display on campus in 4½ years, and again took place without problem or incident. As usual, Campus Security instructed the students to turn their signs inwards, or leave campus. Campus Security did not indicate to the students what U of C rule, policy, bylaw or regulation the students were violating. The students refused to turn their signs inwards or leave campus, and continued to engage in the peaceful expression of their opinions on campus.
Several days after this ninth GAP display, a letter from Associate Vice-Provost was sent to eight students who had participated in the display. She accused each of these eight students of violating the U of C’s Non-Academic Misconduct Policy by “failure to follow the direction of a Campus Security officer or University official in the legitimate pursuit of his/her duties.”
The “Major Violation” category of offenses includes theft, vandalism, arson, violence, firearms misuse, uttering threats, and sexual assault. One of the penalties which can be imposed in respect of a Major Violation is expulsion from the university.
Each of the eight students attended an individual “hearing” before Vice-Provost. During these hearings, the students requested a copy of the job description, policy manual or other document or documents setting out the duties of Campus Security. They were told that those were not relevant facts.
In a letter dated May 5, 2010, the Vice-Provost found the eight students guilty of Major Violation of the Non-Academic Misconduct Policy. She included a warning that if the students set up the GAP display on campus again, and again failed to comply with the U of C’s censorship demand to turn the signs inwards or leave campus, penalties of increasing severity would be imposed.
On May 14, 2010, counsel filed the students’ appeal of the decision with the chair of the Appeal Board. In a letter dated August 20, 2010, Ms. Tierney dismissed the students’ appeal without a hearing.