STUDENTS RISK MORE PENALTIES FROM UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY FOR DEFYING CENSORSHIP
CALGARY – Despite warnings from the University of Calgary administration, members of the Campus Pro-Life (CPL) student group found guilty of “Non-Academic Misconduct” for having set up a pro-life display on campus this past April are once again displaying the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) on the U of C campus. The controversial display compares abortion to past historical atrocities, such as the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. The display is scheduled to be set up between the MacEwan Student Centre and Science B buildings today (September 27th) and tomorrow (September 28th).
“The images are difficult to look at, admittedly we don’t like looking at them either, but the images are only upsetting because abortion is upsetting,” stated CPL President Alanna Campbell.
After the display was previously exhibited last April, members of the group that they were charged and found guilty of a ‘Major Violation’ under Section 4.10 of the University of Calgary’s Non-Academic Misconduct Policy for “failure to comply with a Campus Security officer or University official in legitimate pursuit of his/her duties” by refusing to turn their display inward. Other major violations in this category include sexual assault, the use of explosives and firearms, and selling illegal drugs. The guilty verdict was “a formal written warning” that if the students “fail to comply with directives of Campus Security staff in the future” it will “result in more severe sanctions,” wrote Acting Associate Vice-Provost Meghan Houghton, who was the sole decision-maker in the guilty verdict. More severe sanctions can include the possibility of expulsion. The University’s Appeal Board refused to hear the students’ appeal, and members of the student group will appeal the guilty verdict to the Board of Governors.
“This will be the tenth display of GAP on campus. We have always found that this display has a large capacity for healing, educating, and raising awareness,” said CPL Vice-President Cameron Wilson. “That makes this display, without a shadow of doubt worth the cost that the university seeks to exact from us individually.”
The group has displayed its Genocide Awareness Project on the University of Calgary grounds, without incident, nine times since 2006. In 2006 and 2007, during the first four Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) campus displays, the University defended the students’ right to expression under the Charter, but in 2008 the University reversed its policy without explanation. 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. Since then, members of Campus Pro-Life have been threatened with Non-Academic Misconduct upon each display, and the University has found eight students guilty of Non-Academic Misconduct.
“We believe in the effectiveness of the display and we believe in our right to display it. For these reasons, we will not give in to intimidation and will challenge all attempts at censorship. We are proceeding now just as we have in the past,” stated Peter Csillag, CPL Vice-President.