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uVic Sets Great Free Speech Example for Student Unions & University Administrations

The last year or so has provided witness to disappointing behaviour by student unions and university administrations across our free and democratic nation. They have chosen to deny freedom of expression rights to their pro-life students.

A few weeks ago, at McGill University, the Student Society of McGill University passed a motion to censure a pro-life presentation organized by the Choose Life student club. The motion also demanded that McGill’s administration cancel the event. Thankfully, the Deputy Provost refused to do so, stating that the group had a right to discuss the issue freely.

As the presentation began, a few dozen students interrupted the speech by loudly chanting childhood favourites like "the Hokey Pokey." They then took over the stage, blocked the screen and snatched the speaker’s notes prior to campus security arriving on the scene. Two students were arrested, though the heckling was permitted to continue until the end of the presentation.

Thankfully, the administration has since spoken out against the protest, stating that it “disrupts the free expression of ideas on campus.” (You can watch footage of the disturbing events here

This isn’t entirely dissimilar to what happened at St. Mary’s University last fall, when pro-life advocates were shouted down during an event. Or, what has taken place on several other university campuses across the country.

Now, to the good news.

Last week, the pro-life student club at the University of Victoria, Youth Protecting Youth, held a well received, and well attended, abortion debate with approval of both student union and university administration. So many students attended, far more than the 200-seat capacity, that the speakers offered a second session to those who were forced to leave the initial presentation due the fire code restrictions.

Stephanie Gray from the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform debated Professor Dr. Eike-Henner Kluge, a uVic philosophy professor and bioethicist.  The debate, which addressed the issue of personhood, was reported as being respectful and civil, with Dr. Kluge stating that he found it “deplorable” that his colleagues had refused to participate. A video of the incredibly successful event can be watched here.

Free expression on a university campus. Academic discussion of a controversial issue. This shouldn't really be blogworthy behaviour in a free and democratic Canada, should it?

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