CALGARY, Alberta, April 19, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Eight pro-life students at the University of Calgary (UofC), faced with possible expulsion for their activism, gathered this morning to deliver a simple message to their university: “Do unto us whatever you desire, punish us however you wish; but our convictions shall not change, and we shall not alter our actions based on intimidation.”
These words were read by Cameron Wilson, vice president of UofC’s Campus Pro-Life (CPL), at a press conference this morning in front of the school library. Wilson is one of eight CPL members who were notified late last week that they have been charged with non-academic misconduct over their presentation of the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) on April 8-9.
The group has put up the GAP display, which compares abortion to past historical atrocities through the use of graphic images, on the University of Calgary grounds without incident eight times since 2006.
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 2009. The university has threatened participating students with non-academic misconduct charges on the occasion of each display, but this is the first time they are following through with their threat.
UofC has attempted to force the club to turn their signs inwards so they are not facing passersby, but CPL has refused to comly. Leah Hallman, CPL’s president, told LifeSiteNews (LSN) that UofC’s demand “is essentially saying that we can speak as long as nobody can hear us, we can show images as long as nobody can see them.”
Hallman explained that on April 8th campus security ordered them to turn their signs inward, but they refused as they always have. Then security told them to leave the campus and the students again refused, “knowing that we have the right to be there.”
UofC is charging the students with having failed to comply with an order from campus security, but according to Hallman, “campus security has no right to censor our … legitimate free speech.”
“It’s absolutely ridiculous that the university, which receives most of its money from taxpayer dollars is not permitting certain ideas to be displayed on campus – the pro-life ideas, our viewpoint that abortion is wrong.”
“If [UofC] were a private institution then they would have the right to censor whatever viewpoints they want,” explained John Carpay, a lawyer with the pro-free speech Canadian Constitution Foundation, who has represented the students since the fall of 2008. “But they get the majority of their funding from Alberta taxpayers, and so they don’t have a right to discriminate based on viewpoint.”
Carpay agreed with the students that UofC is attempting to censor the students’ opinion. “Being asked to turn your signs inwards in such a way that nobody can see them is censorship,” he told LSN.
Each student is required to appear at a hearing before UofC’s Vice-Provost in the next few weeks, to which they have been told they are not permitted to bring legal counsel. There the students could face penalties including probation or even expulsion. Once a decision is rendered, there are two levels of appeal within the university and then, if necessary, the case would go to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.
Carpay said that rather than going to court, he hopes “the university would just lay off and stop censoring the students.”
In their statement at the press conference this morning, the students referred to the criticism levied against GAP that the images portrayed are offensive and hurtful. They asked: “If an action is too terrible to look at, how then can it be tolerated? Why should we leave unchallenged and undebated a practice so horrific that words alone fail to describe it?”
“We shall not abandon the unborn child to be murdered,” they stated. “We shall not desert the single mom in crisis. We shall not allow the evil of abortion to remain unexposed. We shall not be intimidated by the threat of force. We shall not be scared by the threat of expulsion. We shall not back down from the stand we have made.”
“If they are to punish us, then we are content to let history revile them for their suppression of liberty,” they added. “If they are to punish us, then let the blood of the unborn child be upon their heads. If they are to punish us then let the pain of the suffering mom be upon their conscience.”
“So let the university do whatever action their twisted worldview sees fit, for we fear not the judgment of tyranny,” they concluded.
The university told LSN in a statement that, “Due to privacy concerns, the University of Calgary will not comment on specific matters relating to misconduct proceedings.”
My dear friends, what you have just read above in red is the stuff of fearless martyrs and heroes for the unborn. They are words for the coming age and for the ages…