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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Closed minds on campus

The York Federation of Students: Training the human-rights commissioners of tomorrow.

For Immediate Release
March 1, 2008
Abortion Debate Cancelled by York University Student Union

The York University Student Centre shut down an event entitled “Abortion Debate: A Woman’s Right or a Moral Wrong?” at York University only a couple of hours before it was scheduled to take place late Thursday afternoon.

Margaret Fung, President of Students for Bioethical Awareness (SBA), one of the hosting clubs, describes what happened: “I was told in a meeting by members of the York Federation of Students that debating abortion is comparable to debating whether a man should be allowed to beat his wife. They said that there is freedom of speech to a limit, and that abortion is not an issue to debate. They demanded that the event not take place and shut us down.” Present at this meeting in addition to Fung were Jeremy Salter, Executive Director of the York Federation of Students (YFS), Fuad Abdi, VP Operations of the YFS and also the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Student Centre, and Amir Mohareb, President of the York Debating Society.

SBA, an official York University Student Club, worked with the York Debating Society to organize the debate. The debaters were Michael Payton from Freethinkers, Skeptics and Atheists at York for the pro-choice side and Jose Ruba from the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Awareness for the pro-life side. It was to be an organized debate moderated by the York Debating Society. Both sides were ready and willing to debate, but after it was demanded the event be shut down, dozens of students planning on attending the event were turned away at the door.

Commenting on her feelings about what took place, Fung continues, “The Student Centre has made sure that anyone with different views than theirs can’t express themselves, even if both points of view are represented. They don’t seem to understand that we live in a free, democratic society. A university is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas not a propaganda machine for political extremists.”

This action at York University comes in the wake of statements by the Canadian Federation of Students (of which the YFS is a part) comparing pro-life student groups to the KKK, and announcing their intention to support student unions who ban pro-life student clubs. “Salter also compared pro-lifers to the KKK,” concludes Fung, “And such comparisons are incredibly ignorant and, quite frankly, hurtful”.

For more information, please contact:
Margaret Fung, Co-President, Students for Bioethical Awareness: (416)650-8870, [email protected]

Maria Smolkova, Co-President, Students for Bioethical Awareness: (647)654-6023, [email protected]

Posted by Terry O'Neill on March 1, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Canuckofascism strikes again. I wonder how the folks who shut down the debate feel about human rights commissions?

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-03-01 12:36:45 PM

" They said that there is freedom of speech to a limit, and that abortion is not an issue to debate. "

Why stop there? Perhaps they should just go all the way and shut down debate on whether there should be freedom of speech at all.

I have to wonder what they would have done if Ahmadinejad had been cancelled from speaking at Columbia.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-03-01 12:54:06 PM

What can one expect from those who would murder helpless human babies in their mother's womb.

Posted by: Rev Spitz | 2008-03-01 1:37:05 PM

York university is just like a Soviet Gulag...

Posted by: winston | 2008-03-01 1:39:13 PM


"York university is just like a Soviet Gulag... "

Let's not get silly. At least the students are free to leave and are not enslaved to the point of being worked to death.

However, the mind set remains the same and if given enough latitude to implement their agenda...then yes, you have a point because it all springs from the same source. Self-righteous elites feigning socialist sensibilities.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-03-01 1:45:23 PM

I drove all the way from McMaster university to hear this debate take place. Now, I think I never will recommend another person to go to York Uni after being told to go home, and being told what I can or cannot discuss. Who is the York uni student council to dictate what is a debatable topic for ALL Canadians, they are as narrow minded (if not more) as they say prolifers are.

Posted by: Tamara | 2008-03-01 5:05:19 PM

I would love to see Ms. Fung haul Salter and the Students Union before the HRC. To compare pro-lifers to the KKK is not only hurtful, it is "likely" to incite someone to commit violence against them. And all they want to do is start a debate.

Posted by: TimR | 2008-03-01 7:06:46 PM

Hitler was bad, very bad. In my opinion, the CFofS looks worse.

Posted by: dewp | 2008-03-01 7:59:53 PM

Students' unions running the show is the tail waging the dog. However it has become common place at our institutions of lower learning and indoctrination.

Parents who have spent hard earned money to send their children to these places should be reimbursed.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-03-01 8:06:40 PM

Things don't change much do they? 30 years ago, when I was going to CFS meetings, the staffers basically did all the 'research' wrote the press releases, told all the 'elected' student reps what should be done, and wrote the 'position papers'.They wrote out the resolutions, and revved up the exec to push it to the schools. They were not students. They were professional propagandists with an agenda. Only a few schools had student exec with any independant knowledge about anything, which is understandable, considering the transience of the student population. The staffers, meantime, stuck around for years. They were politically mostly dippers. Perhaps a few communists.
Things don't change.

Posted by: lwestin | 2008-03-01 9:10:06 PM

History indicates that those who start banning ideas from the public sphere eventually end up banning the people holding those same ideas from the public sphere. Therefore, Winston is more accurately described as being ahead of the curve rather than being incorrect.

In a related but slightly off-topic point, history also informs us that where a regime starts by burning books, it ends by burning people.

Posted by: Brent Weston | 2008-03-01 9:22:45 PM

Maybe the subject of the debate should have been: should fetuses have rights?

I think framing the debate in terms of abortion is asking for trouble (though I agree that student federation should not have shut down the debate).

Really, the debate should be: are fetuses individuals with rights?

Posted by: SUZANNE | 2008-03-01 10:04:23 PM

Who really gives a damn what a bunch of second rate losers at an utterly worthless school think? It's just another nail in York's intellectual coffin.

Posted by: John | 2008-03-02 6:05:31 AM

Really, the debate should be about abotion.

Posted by: dewp | 2008-03-02 1:42:24 PM

Really, the debate should be about abortion.

Posted by: dewp | 2008-03-02 1:43:26 PM

Yes, why should one be allowed to discuss a "settled" issue?
We are not allowed to discuss AGW either, remember?

Posted by: Johan i Kanada | 2008-03-02 3:18:01 PM

The sophomoric brats that infest student unions / campus politics don't mind the PC jack-boot of censorship of free speech as long as they see themselves as Marxists / feminists but they really dislike any association with the fascist jack-boot which is really no different. Perhaps they need to be reminded that they have created a free speech environment no different than a military parade square during drills.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-03-03 11:49:17 AM

"I was told in a meeting by members of the York Federation of Students that debating abortion is comparable to debating whether a man should be allowed to beat his wife."

It's interesting that anyone made this comparision, as many can then argue that abortion is indeed similar to beating one's wife (or one's husband, of course), as both involve one person taking away the rights of another.

Posted by: bmmg39 | 2008-03-04 9:44:41 AM

Yes, it's an unsettled issue. Otherwise why would so many men and women be grieving and speaking out of their experiences with abortion?

If it's worthy of defending, let's discuss it, look at the multi-faceted issue critically from all perspectives, and not try to trample over anyone trying to get people to think beyond what limited amount of information we're given from the media.

Certainly, it's worthy of discussion, and not worth any more irrational fear of validating what so many women and families need - Recognizing that their pain is legitimate, because what they valued the most (and now have lost) was legitimately valuable. And who makes more money off these vulnerable women? Planned Parenthood, or the prolife homes and organizations? Who's giving more to these women and families? Consumers gotta step out of the rhetorics and marketing sometimes and discern who really do care about them and what matters to them most..

Posted by: zwriter | 2008-03-06 7:51:32 PM

Funny that the Canadian Supreme Court feels that the topic should still be debated but York University apparently think that they are above the recommendations to discuss free thought. Talk about the height of hypocrisy on this one.

Also if the debate would be like "should a husband be able to beat his wife?" Wouldn't that be an easy debate for them to win? But I guess educating us ignorant pro-lifers isn't on their agenda.

Posted by: Curtis Miller | 2008-03-06 9:37:34 PM

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