Pro-life group broke rules, UVic student society rules

The University of Victoria Students’ Society has 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 (the comparison) 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 … the actions taken by the board are based on a false guilty verdict,” she wrote 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.