Comparing abortion to Holocaust violates harassment policy, UVic students’ society rules

Last week, the University of Victoria Students’ Society finally ruled that a pro-life club broke the school’s harassment policy by comparing abortion to the Holocaust in October 2010.

At a Feb. 7 meeting, the students’ society voted to censure Youth Protecting Youth over “Echoes of the Holocaust,” a talk led by a visiting representative of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform. The public disapproval of YPY’s actions follows recommendations made by the students’ society’s complaints committee, which was formed in 2008 after numerous students voiced concerns regarding the controversial club.

“Because many students on campus are capable of having abortions and/or are students of Jewish decent, YPY should have reasonably thought to have known that using marketing materials for their presentation, which compares the Holocaust to abortion, could reasonably create a hostile, intimidating, threatening or humiliating environment on campus for individuals of the student body,” said UVic Students’ Society chair James Coccola.

“In this case, we felt that the harassment policy was broken by YPY.”

The censure is little more than a public disapproval, Coccola said, confirming that YPY’s club status, reinstated last spring in B.C. Supreme Court, is not in question.

YPY president Anastasia Pearse worries possible revisions to the off-campus speakers policy would not be applied equally to all clubs and could be used to censor her group.

“Although we welcome and encourage dialogue on the abortion issue, we have not harassed anyone, and so the actions taken by the board are based on a false guilty verdict,” Pearse wrote in an e-mail to the News.

The complaints committee also recommended the UVSS board weigh mediation options with YPY and host a restorative justice (likely pro-choice) event, organized by the Political Action Committee.

Student feedback concerning YPY’s presence on campus have accounted for all complaints to the Students’ Society in recent history, Coccola said, adding the UVSS hopes to work with the group to prevent future issues.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

YPY timeline:

Summer of 2008: The pro-life club receives club funding and status

Fall of 2008: UVSS receives complaints; club loses funding

Spring 2009: Clubs council votes to fund YPY but decision is overturned; YPY loses club status

Spring 2010: YPY files a B.C. Supreme Court lawsuits against students’ society; awarded club status and $775 in lost fees

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