On Monday, the board of directors for the University of Victoria’s Students Society in British Columbia held a meeting and passed a motion that effectively censored the school’s Catholic Students Association. This motion was the result of a complaint filed against the council’s director of student affairs after the CSA had three booklets available at its booth: Pure Womanhood, Pure Manhood, and Pure Love earlier this school year.
According to the UVSS, these books that promote sexual purity and relational chastity are “harassment”, even though the CSA was not distributing copies to anyone but those who voluntarily approached the association’s booth and requested a copy.
More egregious than the UVSS’ anti-free speech decision to not allow a ratified religious group to present religiously-influenced texts (when, incidentally, the value of chastity is one embraced by almost all mainstream religions) is that the UVSS has forced the CSA to write a formal apology to the student population for daring to express the faith of its membership, and has also requested that the CSA “engage in a conversation facilitated by an external party regarding oppressive language, systemic violence and consent.”
There you have it: If a Catholic student promotes chastity, they have to partake in a workshop on “oppressive language, violence and consent.” Who knew that Pure Love was actually a book about rape and verbal abuse? Apparently the UVSS.
The most ridiculous part about the CSA’s punishment, however, is that all materials the group intends to use in future displays must be vetted by a hodgepodge of university special interest groups, including, but not limited to, UVic Pride–the school’s gay lobby group–and Women’s Centre.
The sole UVSS member to vote against the motion to censor the CSA was Gabrielle Sutherland, who has been an opponent of the vague “Harassment Policy” since it was written.
“The materials may be offensive to some, but if one has to bend over, pick up a book, and then make a conscious choice to open it, then there is no harassment,” Sutherland said. “Yelling through a megaphone, or somehow forcing people to take them – then, and only then, one may try and make a case of harassment.”
“Unfortunately for people who buy into this definition of harassment, is that they will graduate, go out into the real world and be offended all the time, and will be unable to scream harassment, because people in the real world will tell them to take a hike,” she added.