Debate Censored at York University

This was a debate

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 Reform 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”.

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