April 11, 2016

Pro-life group appears on campus

University encourages free inquiry, open debate and diversity of opinions

Since January 2016 and on several occasions, three individuals from the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBER) have been holding posters and handing out pamphlets regarding abortions. They have mainly appeared outside between Mac Hall and the Taylor Family Digital Library. However, the pro-life group’s last two appearances on campus occurred inside Mac Hall in the link between MSC and Science B. On April 7, pro-choice counter-protestors were also on hand to distribute peer support resources while CCBER representatives were present.

The concept of freedom of speech is a foundational principle of all great universities. The University of Calgary is committed to fostering an environment of free inquiry, open debate and diversity of opinions. The university supports students or others sharing their views about subjects — including those that are controversial — in a safe and respectful manner. Student clubs, groups and individuals wishing to use university property are required to comply with the Use of University Facilities for Non-Academic Purposes policy.

The university has received some complaints from individuals who are offended by the graphic nature of the information. To date, the group members who are not University of Calgary students or employees, have been holding posters and handing out pamphlets in a non-confrontational manner. The CCBER supports and promotes the Genocide Awareness Project among others.

According to the chief of campus security, Brian Sembo, his department has been diligently placing sandwich boards with a message warning of the graphic nature of the information being presented once they become aware of the group’s presence on campus. “We’re here to ensure that people have the option to receive the information if they desire, or to simply walk away if they have no interest. All students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus are expected to behave in a respectful and law-abiding manner and co-operate with security staff,” he said.

Any individuals or groups that appear on campus and follow the Use of University Facilities for Non-Academic Purposes policy will be permitted to remain on campus for allotted times and under the specified conditions. Any potential breaches will be reviewed and assessed by university Legal Services and Campus Security.

The University of Calgary is committed to providing a safe and welcoming campus environment and we understand that some members of our community might find the materials distressing and upsetting. Support for those distressed by the displays or pamphlet based information can be obtained from the Student Wellness Centre at 403-210-9355, the Women's Resource Centre at 403-220-8551, Staff Wellness at 403-220-2918, or Lifeworks at 1-877-207-8833.

Additionally, students looking for safe, non-judgmental, and student-run communities or support is encouraged contact the Women’s Studies and Feminist Club and the Consent Awareness and Sexual Education Club.

Moreover, for anyone with concerns or complaints regarding the content of information being distributed or displayed by individuals or groups on campus please email comms@ucalgary.ca (University Relations). And for any concerns regarding the behaviour or conduct of individuals or groups distributing information on campus please contact Campus Security at 403-220-5333.