After having its tabling materials confiscated in the fall, U of M pro-life student group Students for a Culture of Life (UMSCL) faced renewed criticism after reappearing at UMSU University Centre with new campaigning materials during student group recruitment week.
According to its official UMSU student group page, the group “exists to educate university students about prenatal development, abortion and what abortion does to preborn children, and other human rights issues, such as euthanasia.”
UMSCL has faced pushback from students for past campaigning efforts, which included materials that caused some students to file complaints with UMSU.
In the fall term, UMSCL’s tabling materials were confiscated by UMSU following complaints.
After referencing the UMSU safe environment policy, it was determined by UMSU that the group violated the rules and future table bookings were revoked.
Despite this, the group was allowed to book a table and campaign in UC last week, a decision made by UMSU after the implementation of the union’s newly-amended position on reproductive rights that formally opposed “any act of coercion or attempted coercion with respect to making reproductive choices.”
UMSU president Jakob Sanderson said the decision was made with the direction that the group would have to follow the new policies.
“In September their tabling rights were suspended,” he said.
“They were re-instated after the new policy was passed with the expectation that they would comply.”
However, UMSU was notified by students that some of the materials used by UMSCL — which included graphic imagery in pamphlets and miniature fetus dolls — were directly in violation with the new amendments, which also include a sub-clause opposing “the dissemination of graphic materials or information that is misleading or false as part of any event/activity or within the group/club or association.”
“I wasn’t in the office when they were first seen but they were told to put them away,” Sanderson said.
“By the time I got there, the basket of miniature fetuses was stolen. I have no idea who stole it.”
UMSCL president Gaudius Mariae Lucas said UMSU asked the group to remove the fetus dolls, but said the brochures and literature the group was handing out were acceptable.
“I wasn’t too sure why the fetal models were [considered] too graphic,” he said.
“And I was asking why similar graphics within the brochure were okay, because they were saying just specifically the fetal molds were, and I wasn’t too sure.”
Sanderson added that UMSU is dealing with UMSCL “internally at this time” and that the group left of their own accord and UMSU did not formally revoke their tabling privileges.
“We did not stop their tabling but said that the fetuses were inappropriate and to consider this a formal warning. An email was later sent out to clarify this,” he said.
“If there are further incidents, further action may be considered.”