University to Prohibit Club Status for Groups Opposed to Abortion

A motion debated at the November 21 session of the Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA) council meeting would prohibit any group opposed to abortion from attaining club status at the University. While aimed at a pro-life group of students seeking club status on campus, the proposed policy may ban Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish and Muslim clubs as well.

[Editor's note: Carleton University is in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.]

On November 21, Katy McIntyre Vice President of CUSA Student Services, proposed a "Motion to Amend Discrimination on Campus Policy" which would bar from club status all groups opposed to abortion. The motion stated:

1) CUSA and CUSA Inc. respect and affirm a woman's right to choose.
2) No CUSA resources, space, recognition or funding be allocated for anti-choice purposes.

The summary of the motion argues that pro-life groups are "anti-choice", and "seek to remove choice by making abortion illegal and it would be impossible to make abortion illegal without violating the Canadian Constitution, by removing a woman's right to life, liberty, and security of the person."

It also states that pro-life groups "compromise the personal safety and threaten the self esteem of women who may contemplate abortion or have chosen to have an abortion".

The motion is to be voted on, on December 5, at 6:30 p.m. at the next CUSA Council Meeting.

Lifeline President Sarah Fletcher spoke with about the situation. "I think it pretty ridiculous that this governing body which is supposed to be representing all students would be declaring itself pro-choice because not all of the students are going to agree with them on that view." 

As worded, the motion may also bar religious groups which are pro-life from campus. Fletcher said, "I don't know if they understand the implications, by passing this motion they are infringing on human rights… it will affect the Jewish and Muslim student groups, the Christian and Catholic groups."

Carleton University spokesman Lin Moody told "The Carleton University Student Association (CUSA) is an independent body and, as a matter of course, we do not interfere with their activities. It is University policy not to comment on matters of speculation. The University will be prepared to comment further subsequent to the December 5 CUSA meeting."

Blake Brooks, Vice President of External Affairs at CUSA, told that he is not sure how the vote will turn out. "I've been getting a lot of feedback within the last 24-hours on both sides," he said.

CUSA president Shawn Menard supports the motion, as does the Ashley Hunkin, the Women's coordinator on the CUSA Council who seconded the motion. However, an editorial in the university student newspaper opposes the motion.

To RESPECTFULLY express concerns to the University:

Dr. Samy Mahmoud
President and Vice-Chancellor Pro Tempore
Office of the President
503 Tory Building
1125 Colonel By Drive,
Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6

Phone: 613 520-3801
Fax: 613 520-4474


See the student newspaper editorial.

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