UNB pro-life club accuses student council of prejudice
Delay | Student union president says decision took longer than normal to do its due diligence
By Heather McLaughlin, Daily Gleaner, Jan. 21, 2012
A 20-member pro-life student group at the University of New Brunswick has finally been granted club status from the UNB student union, but getting there was a path fraught with frustrations, says club president Amanda Magee.
The club's status was approved earlier this month at a UNB student union meeting council meeting. It had been seeking club status since October.
'There was very much great prejudice. The student union posts the minutes of the meeting online and there were two very, very strong protesters of our ratification,' Magee said. 'The student union's job is to put their personal beliefs and everything aside to make a judgment based on the betterment of the university and for the student body itself.' 'Also, there was a lot of miscommunication with the vice-president of finance and operations, Andrew Martel,' Magee said. 'We asked to attend the student union meeting ... but he never got back to us. We also got emails from him because the union had some questions and I was more than happy to answer these questions for them and I would send them back on time for the student union meeting, but in looking at the minutes from the last council meeting, he did not bring any of our new information forward.
'We didn't even get a formal email from the student union or a letter stating that we were denied status. I had to find out three days later and third-hand that an article had been printed in The Brunswickan.' Magee said she subsequently received a letter of apology from Martel for the miscommunications.
She said the club had to meet criteria in order to be recognized and qualify for funding. While religious and political groups on campus may be recognized by the student union, they don't qualify for student union funding. A special-interest group, however, can qualify for ratification, which means it's eligible to apply for student union funding. The pro-life club applied as a special-interest group. Since achieving club status, it qualifies for $150 in startup funding and can subsequently apply for further funding.
'We were ratified by the student union and I asked for a letter of apology for the way things were handled and I did receive that,' Magee said.
Money isn't the big issue, but recognition was, Magee said.
Jordan Thompson, president of the UNB student union, said the ratification process took longer than normal.
'Council did debate this issue for four meetings over a span of two months. The process for this club did take a bit longer, but knowing the divide on campus and in the province about a contentious issue such as this, we wanted to take our time to ensure that policy was being followed and procedures were in place and to answer all of the concerns that some of our councillors had about a club like this being on campus,' Thompson said.
'It was all to ensure that we were doing due diligence and making the best decision possible.' Martel confirmed he sent Magee an apology letter for his lack of communication at certain points.
'This lead to some confusion from both sides and miscommunication. I know it was around exam time, and my academics were becoming increasingly demanding, but as I wrote in the letter, my job demands me to be the link between the parties involved, and I did not do that task to the best of my ability at a few times. My letter was to apologize to Amanda, as well as the group as a whole, as I realize that my errors caused issues with their pro cess and stress on several parties,' Martel said Friday.
'I mentioned in the letter that I promised to work vigilantly to make sure that this issue would not happen again.' Magee said the club will hold information sessions, may plan public debates or discussions and will work to distribute pro-life information.
'Basically here on campus, we just believe that from birth to natural death, everyone deserves respect and has the right to live,' Magee said. 'On campus, we really just bring this very current issue to the students and make them think about it a little more because a lot of people haven't really thought about it in awhile.
'We're also interested in removing that stigma that comes with being prolife nowadays and we just want people to be more open and understanding. We also want to be a resource for the students,' Magee said.
'The university's women's centre and the sexuality centre on campus don't have resources on crisis pregnancy and post-abortion counselling.'