University of Victoria anti-abortion group resolves dispute with student union

Alegal dispute between the University of Victoria Students’ Society and an undergraduate anti-abortion group has been settled out of court.

In May, Youth Protecting Youth filed a lawsuit in the B.C. Supreme Court against the student union, alleging club members had faced discrimination and censorship.

Youth Protecting Youth had been seeking the reinstatement of funding and club status that student union leaders had allegedly removed for disciplinary reasons.

But the group announced today (July 19) an agreement had been reached with the student union.

The University of Victoria Students’ Society has granted summer semester funding, recognized the group’s club status, repaid previously denied funds, and rescinded controversial policy changes.

“This is a great victory for YPY,” club president Anastasia Pearse says in a statement on the club’s Web site.

“We interpret the UVSS’ concessions as an admission of wrongdoing, and we’re happy with the new direction it’s taking.”

Under the agreement, the lawsuit is being held in abeyance, which means the anti-abortion club could quickly reinitiate legal action, if desired.

Student union spokesperson James Coccola defended the UVSS actions.

“The board of directors weighed all the sides and did their best to accommodate all of the concerns,” Coccola said, referring to the initial complaints from Youth Protecting Youth.

“The board of directors feels that it has the right to decide where its members’ money goes,” he added. “They have the right to take political positions.”

But Coccola expressed relief a settlement has been reached.

“The biggest issue for us was cost and we’re happy we didn’t have to go into court,” he told the Straight today by phone.

“Stepping into court probably would have cost us anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000, which is more than we’d really be able to pay at this point.”

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association has also been supportive of Youth Protecting Youth in the dispute.

“This is an acceptable settlement,” the association’s John Dixon says in a statement. “But why did it take a lawsuit to extract a modicum of respect for free speech rights on the campus of a public university?”

Comments (10) Add New Comment
Blake
Fail.
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Abortion is bigger right than free speech?
Answering Dixons question, it takes the threat of a lawsuit so that the UVic student politicians can tell their pro-abortion constituency that they did all they could afford to do to prevent YPY from being a presence on campus.

Hopefully, YPY will spend special attention to outting the wide-spread but secretive practice of sex-selective abortions. A woman is taken by her family to Blaine's Koala Labs at the earliest time that foetus gender can be determined - very close to 12 weeks. If foetus is female, woman gets a quick, 12-th week abortion in Vancouver and trys again for a son.
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Camero409
Well the religious right have a victory. Hopefully we won't see this victory in other educational facilities. This is the thin edge of the wedge for the religious right easing it's way in to power positions. Deny them. The religious right are the real despots.
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Kelly B
The UVSS settled because the old anti-free speech board got their asses kicked in the last student union election. It's as simple as that.
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Safiya
So let me get this straight,

The UVSS is giving student money to an organisation (that apparently already has the dough to take them to court) that advocates for rights to be taken away from people?

Where was this YPY getting their money from in the first place?
And when did the UVSS lose the ability to use their own free speech to stand up for their members?

This is awful.
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J
Just because you disagree with a group is no reason to try to whipe them out of existence. I disagree with both sides on this issue, but I believe in free speech so much that I will fight for both sides' right to be heard.

I aplaud the Civil Liberties Association for their principled stance. Even unpopular groups deserve the right to be heard.
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Colin Bowers
What a joke the UVSS has become. One would think that a Students' Union would act with more respect for equality and would uphold womens' rights to control their bodies. But I guess not shocking given that students at Uvic voted for the Liberal slate.

FAIL
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perkunas
The student union is being duped by tea party tatctics. It seems to be the game plan everywhere currently. It's time to let this world dip into the anachronisms of religion. Lets embrace these fundamentalist religions and these neoconservative archetypes as soon as possible and explode this mother of mothers to the darkest, emptiest depths of the cosmos imaginable. I would like to feed them what they desire and usher in a complete and utter armageddon.

Peace, Love and Annihilation.
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Nestor
The biggest joke in all this is the BCCLA's part in it. Rarely is it made so plain what a pointless and amorphous concept "free speech" is than when it is unequivocally defended even in cases where the immediate objective of a sancrosanct speech act is the curtailment of the freedoms of others. In essence, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association supported a group whose goal is a decrease in civil liberties. To continue in this ironic trend, maybe next they could defend a White Pride group against discrimination.

It also should be noted that the conflict at UVic wasn't even primarily about shutting up this pro-life group, but rather about no longer supplying them with funding from student fees - a request that seems more than reasonable to me, considering that we are talking about an institution of supposed higher learning vs. a bunch of religious zealots. If my taxes had to pay for the upkeep of the evangelical mega-church on my block, I'd be pretty pissed, too.
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Phil
I am just amazed at how many support the oppression of others simply because they disagree with their point of view. The best way to expose the flaws in YPY's position is to give them a forum to demonstrate them. What are you afraid of? Don't you have any faith in people's ability to weigh evidence and form educated opinions? By attacking their position you simply bring greater attention to it and lend it greater validity.
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