Petition organizer says it ‘advocates against my basic human rights’
The University of Ottawa student government’s position on abortion is clear. It supports abortion, and does not tolerate different views from student groups.
For the second time in three years, the body responsible for coordinating student clubs has derecognized University of Ottawa Students for Life because of its pro-life views, student newspaper The Fulcrum reports.
Garifalia Milousis, co-president of the club, told The College Fix in a Facebook message that the dispute wasn’t over.
She protested the new policy that bans funding from groups “advocating against access to legal abortion” at a Students’ Union board meeting Sunday, and the union “agreed with me that the policy was unacceptable in the circumstances.”
The club can appeal the policy at the next board meeting Feb. 16, “in light of the new clarifications,” she said.
It’s been a complicated route toward the most recent defunding. The Fulcrum reported last week:
In a series of meetings in October and November 2019, the UOSU adopted a pro-choice stance on abortion and then amended its club code to block any group that advocates against access to legal abortion from union funding. A General Assembly was held in early December where students could vote on the club status of UOSFL, but the meeting failed to reach quorum and became a town hall discussion instead.
The decision on the club status of UOSFL was then moved to a meeting of the UOSU’s student life committee, where representatives from UOSFL and pro-choice supporters who launched the petition against the club were invited to attend and voice their arguments. The meeting was held on Dec. 20, with the committee eventually voting to remove the club status of UOSFL, which was announced earlier this month.
The prior iteration of the student government, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, first derecognized the pro-life club two years ago, blocking “resources, space, recognition or funding” from groups “with the primary/sole purpose of anti choice activities.”
Campus Vibez uOttawa – the literal name of the club coordination body – re-recognized it this past October, triggering a student petition to yank back recognition.
While the club can “remain active on campus” under the Dec. 20 vote, it’s not allowed to receive “funds, promotion, or room rentals,” the primary perks of recognition.
Bridget Dueck, administrator of the pro-choice group Defenders of Our Campus, said it’s a “monumental privilege” to achieve club recognition, and pro-life students should not enjoy it because recognition means “they represent the community.”
She created the petition to derecognize Students for Life to prevent the funding of a group that “advocates against my basic human rights,” The Fulcrum noted in October. (Strangely, Dueck would only talk to the newspaper for that prior article on the condition it didn’t use her surname, yet she allowed her full name in last week’s article.)
While Dueck complained that someone online told her she was “going to burn in hell” for opposing the pro-life club’s right to recognition, Milousis told the newspaper she’s received “a number of death threats” since speaking up for her pro-life club.
The student union showed impermissible bias from the start by adopting an explicitly pro-choice stance in October, she said, preordaining the ruling against her club that would follow in December.
Milousis noted the student union is out of sync with the provincial government, which “has put forward a free speech policy that’s supposed to regulate universities and require them to uphold free speech on campus.”
She’s not a typical pro-life activist. As a participant in the Canadian women’s political group Daughters of the Vote, Milousis described herself as a “recent graduate from the Faculty of Feminist and Gender Studies at the University of Ottawa”:
As a feminist, Garifalia [Milousis] has often drawn on intersectionality, disability studies, and critical race theory to analyze sub-issues within this overarching women’s rights category. In particular, Garifalia has researched reproductive coercion, sex-selective abortion, and prenatal genetic testing.