Saturday, November 29, 2008

How to Not Get Something Over With

University of Guelph Students Association drags its feet on Life Choice controversy

The latest development on the tale of the Life Choice controversy at the University of Guelph is being embraced by the editoral staff of the Guelph Mercury embracing the reinstatement of interim club status as a "welcome gesture".

This was done as the appeal process for Life Choice's suspension was delayed yet again, while a tribunal is adjourned to arbitrate the matter.

Previously, on October 30, procedural considerations stalled the appeal process.

"I believe the environment of this room is unsafe," complained U of G CSA's Human Resources Commissioner Joel Harnest -- the very same Joel Harnest who indulged himself in denouncing the Life Fair as "anti-choice", and helped lead the charge against Life Choice on the basis that it somehow rendered the University of Guelph cmapus unsafe for women.

So in other words, the "unsafe environment" of the October 30 appeal hearing more likely had to do with Joel Harnest hearing things he didn't want to hear rather than any particular risk of physical violence.

The October 30 meeting had been conduced in the absence of the CSA's adviser regarding its bylaws.

For one, Patrick Case, the director of the University of Guelph's human rights and equity office admitted that the procedure of the meeting was unfair when the CSA aired uninvestigated allegations of harassment against Life Choice. Case noted that such accusations needed to be either investigated for factualness or discarded.

The matter was delayed until November 19, when the matter was once again delayed due to poor preparation on the CSA's part.

Now, the matter will be delayed further still.

Which makes one wonder precisely how confident Harnest and his CSA cohorts are in their efforts to deny Life Choice student club status in the name of promoting their own agenda -- and they very much do have an agenda.

Some of Harnest's comments printed in the National Post are very indicative of what Harnest's agenda really is, and it should be considered altogether unsurprising considering his previous "anti-choice" rhetoric.

"It's not the responsibility of the CSA to support them because we are a pro-choice organization. And as a private organization we can choose who to associate with," Harnest insists. "My argument is that women are a minority in this country in terms of the power and stake that they have. We are defending the rights of women."

Of course, there are numerous problems with Harnest's argument. First off, the University of Guelph Central Students Association is supposed to be a governing body, not a "pro-choice group".

Secondly, while it can be expected that such organizations will reflect the views of its membership, it does not have the right to impose them on others. Furthermore, the CSA would have to demonstrate that a significant majority of students at the U of G hold "pro-choice" views before it could reasonably declare itself to hold such a stance.

Even then, being a "pro-choice" group does not give it the right to expel a club from its membership for holding contrary views -- particularly when the members of that club each, as U of G students, pay student fees to fund the CSA.

Furthermore, the University of Guelph's actions is proven that it is not a pro-choice group. What Harnest really means is pro-abortion group. Any group that would expel a member for daring to choose to express a contrary opinion is not pro-choice.

Now, with their rationale for expelling Life Choice unraveling before their very eyes under the scrutiny of the U of G human rights and equity office -- an organization that Harnest had to have imagined would back his agenda 100% without so much as a question -- the CSA is apparently looking for a way out.

Now, if their decision to expel Life Choice is overturned by a tribunal, it will at least seem as if their personal responsibility in the matter is diminished.

But it won't be. The University of Guelph Central Student's Association made a decision dictated not by the rules of the CSA itself, but by the political biases of its members.

Given the place this episode has taken as yet another chapter in what Charles Lewis considers to be the ongoing tale of left-wing intolerance on many University campuses, this is an episode that will not be forgotten.

Nor will the role of the CSA in bringing these events to fruition.

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