Student Union applies double standard to pro-life students at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton)

National Campus Life Network News Release Dec. 19/11 Dec. 19, 2011. Fredericton, New Brunswick: Pro-life students at the University of New Brunswick’s (UNB) Fredericton campus were shocked last week to learn from their student newspaper, The Brunswickan, that their club would not be recognized by the Student Union due to a “lack of information”. “The whole situation has been incredibly frustrating,” says Amanda Magee, the President of UNB Students for Life.  “We have given the Student Union information.  We have offered to be present to answer questions.” UNB Students for Life applied for club status in October, not anticipating any issues given that a pro-life club is active at the UNB Saint John campus and had also existed at the Fredericton campus only a few years previous.  When their contact on council, Andrew Martel, requested additional information from the club, they replied, ensuring that the information would be received before the next Council meeting on November 20th.  Despite this, Andrew Martel stated at the meeting, according to the Nov. 20th minutes, that he did not receive any information from the club. “We’ve had to rely on the student newspaper and the minutes of the meetings to piece things together,” adds Magee.  “And the Dec. 4th minutes still aren’t available so we’re not entirely sure what happened.” What is clear is that the pro-life nature of the club has some Councillors concerned.  Some Councillors said that club would be “contentious” and “inviting debate”.  Others, such as Jordan Thompson, the President of the Council, stated that, “the Student Union is not the moral police. As long as the clubs and societies are functioning with certain conduct, it is not our prerogative to judge them on our certain beliefs." “It’s a double standard,” comments Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of National Campus Life Network.  “Simply browse through the listing of clubs on campus and you’ll find clubs with controversial positions.  The Council has asked for additional information; what they need is information concerning what the role of a student union is and is not.  Determining which views are accepted and which are discriminated against is not part of their mandate.” UNB Students for Life will be addressing the issue at the next Council meeting in January. “We have a right to be on campus,” asserts Magee.  “Issues like abortion should be discussed and debated.  Resources on positive alternatives should be promoted.  All we want is the same rights as other clubs so we can do these things on campus.” For more information, contact Amanda Magee, UNB Students for Life President, 506 852 4399. For additional comment, contact Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of National Campus Life Network, 416 388 0461 (office), 416 388 0461 (cell). National Campus Life Network is a national pro-life organization that exists to educate, network and support pro-life post-secondary students across Canada. -30- Further Information Prepared December 18th, 2011
  • Oct. 14th: University of New Brunswick (Fredericton) Students for Life submitted their application for club status to the Student Union. The application complied with the clubs and societies policy.
  • Nov. 6th: Student Union council members begin deliberations on whether or not to grant status to the club (Minutes are available online at http://www.unbsu.ca/content/240480 Discussions concerning the club begin on page 15).
§  Concerned that the club could be “controversial”, “touchy” and “negative”, the council resolved to ask for additional information and defer the decision until the next meeting.
  • Nov. 14th: The club receives a request for additional information from Andrew Martel and replied on Nov. 18th.
  • Nov. 20th: Student Union councillors resume debate concerning the club (see minutes at http://www.unbsu.ca/content/240480, starting on pg 14).
§  Andrew Martel, the Vice-President Finance and Operations, stated that he contacted the club for more information and did not hear back from them. §  Councillors raised objections to the club as it would be a “single issue” club with “political will or intention” (Councillor Gormal-Asal, pg 14), “contentious” and “inviting debate” (Gorman-Asal, pg 15), and potentially disseminating “misinformation” for the pregnancy centre (Glenwright, pg 15).  Other council members stated that the student union should not be a “morality police” (Chamberlain-Boyle, pg 14, and Thompson, pg 15). §  The issue was deferred until more information about the club was presented.
  • Nov. 23rd: An article in The Brunswickan reports on the debate.  http://thebruns.ca/articles/49984 This is the first the club has heard of the situation.
  • Nov. 24th: The club emailed Andrew Martel, expressing their concern with the manner in which their application was being debated and including additional information on the club. A meeting with the Student Union was requested.
  • Nov. 28th:  Andrew Martel responded by email.  He stated he would provide the responses to the Council that Sunday and suggested that the club attend the meeting so as to answer questions.  The club immediately replied, requesting information on how to find the meeting.  A follow-up email was also sent shortly thereafter, but no answer was received.  As such, no members of the club attended the meeting.
  • December 4th student union meeting. (Minutes for the Dec. 4th meeting are not yet online.)
  • Dec. 5th: Andrew Martel contacted the club by email, requesting further information on what groups and centres the club would be referring students to for help with unplanned pregnancies or post-abortion counselling. The club replied on the same day with additional details and links to the centres’ websites.
  • Dec. 7th: An article in The Brunswickan reported that the club had been denied status at the Dec. 4 meeting, citing “insufficient information from the club.”  In the article, Andrew Martel stated that if more information from the club is received, he will bring it forward.  The information that is needed  is “where the resources are coming from and where they will be directing students.”  http://thebruns.ca/articles/50519
  • Dec. 14th: An email is received from Andrew Martel, informing the group that their information was submitted too late for the last meeting (although additional information had been provided on Nov. 28th, a week before the Dec. 4th meeting).  He will bring forward information from the Dec. 5th email at a January meeting.
     

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