BRANDON, MB (September 9, 2013) – As the school year begins, a pro-life club at Brandon University has finally been granted full club status after a lengthy process that has taken an entire year.
“It’s been a long, frustrating year so we’re glad to finally have official club status,” said Catherine Dubois, President of Brandon Students for Life. “It has taken a great deal of work to get us here, but we are thrilled at the opportunity to spread the pro-life message on campus! Our executive has a lot planned for this semester and so now that we have status we can hit the ground running. We are extremely excited to be ratified and to be able to really engage, connect with, and educate our peers.”
The student union’s decision was communicated to the club’s lawyer, John Carpay, at the end of August. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms had intervened at the end of April by informing the student union that legal action would be taken if club status was not granted.
“It is illegal for a student union to deny club status on the basis of the club’s beliefs, opinions, or philosophy. All students are required to pay dues to the student union, and all students enjoy the same right to start the club of their choice. I am pleased that the situation at Brandon was resolved without needing to go to court,” stated Carpay, President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
The controversy began in August 2012 when Catherine Dubois and another club member met with the student union president and vice-president external to discuss starting a pro-life club. They were then informed that the student union would not approve a pro-life club, as they wished to avoid division on campus. The pro-life students filed for status despite this on January 23, 2013, but received a rejection on February 4th, citing conflicts between the union’s bylaws and the club’s constitution.
Students for Life continued their fight for status, and further inquired about what policies their proposed constitution required. After receiving the policies and discussing the issues with members of the student union, the club made amendments and resubmitted on March 5th.
On April 2nd, the club was informed that the student union would defer the decision on whether or not to grant status to next year’s council, thus preventing the club from having status on campus for an entire year.
“Getting club status should not require an entire year or lawyers,” stated Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for the National Campus Life Network, a Canadian organization that exists to support pro-life clubs like Students for Life. “We applaud the student union’s decision, but the club should never have had to go through this lengthy process in the first place.”
For further comment please contact:
Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator, National Campus Life Network, firstname.lastname@example.org, 604-365-3484
John Carpay, President, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, email@example.com, 403-619-8014