Reflections on responding to censorship – and to people in need

What’s it like being a pro-life student on a Canadian campus? In this guest blog post written by Chad Hagel, the current President of UTM Students for Life reflects on censorship on Canadian campuses, and what to derive from it. 

Censorship. What an ugly, awful sounding word. Unfortunately, it’s something that’s becoming the norm today across North America. Particularly on university campuses. Whether it’s protesters shutting down an event hosting Jordan Peterson and Ezra Levant at the University of Toronto, or violence erupting at the University of California Berkeley campus over the presence of a politically incorrect speaker, censorship is alive and well across the continent. It practically grinds the bones of the soldiers who fought in the World Wars into the dust, who worked to make our nations free from oppressive powers.

While censorship can take many forms, perhaps the worst comes from student unions. In their fight to end the systems of oppression they see, student unions perpetuate that oppression by limiting or eliminating groups that go against their particular ideologies. One favourite target is those that promote the pro-life stance. In Canada, the past year alone has seen five separate university pro-life clubs enter into lawsuits against their student unions, with varying levels of success. Brandon University Students for Life, for example, was successful in theirs, while Students for Life at Ryerson University ultimately lost their lawsuit following a lengthy court case.

Pro-life students at other campuses are having no less of an easier time. University of Waterloo Students for Life, for example, is on probation following allegations of club misconduct from the university administration. In October of last year, the club at Wilfrid Laurier University had their 100,000 flag display commemorating abortion victims ripped up in a few hours.

This oppression even raises the question of personal safety for some students. It certainly did for the pro-life student at the University of Windsor who was assaulted walking home this time last year. To bring it closer to home, recent developments surrounding the actions of the pro-life group at the University of Toronto Mississauga has had its president falsely accused of spreading hate speech and harassment by both the student newspaper and student union.

To some reading this, it may seem like I am painting a bleak picture. There is no denying it is bleak. A monster is prowling across university campuses, snapping up unsuspecting students, chewing them up and leaving them groaning in campus hallways. All too often, those in its crosshairs are forced to comply with its demands and have most of their autonomy taken away. Those who stand up, wipe the blood from their lips and stare the monster down with defiance are severely punished, becoming the targets of sabotage, subterfuge and downright insane attempts to silence their message, all in an effort to stop their pro-life voice – and the silent voices of the pre-born – from changing campus culture.

How do you beat this monster?

One word: Laughter. Laugh at the shenanigans of those opposed to your viewpoint. Laugh at the effort they expend at silencing your voice and those of the pre-born, be it with newspaper articles or bedsheets. Laugh at the lengths they are willing to go so that you don’t appear on campus ever again, whether it is by forming groups in opposition to yours or going straight to the administration with complaints about your display in an attempt to remove your group permanently. Laugh to yourself as you survive the fireballs launched your way and go on to do another day of activism – you have beat their attempts to ruin you and have cause to celebrate!

Together, let’s make abortion unthinkable in Canada.

Chad Hagel is currently the president of UTMSFL, and specializes in History while minoring in Classics. He is in his fourth year.

Originally published on UTM Students for Life. Reproduced with permission of the author.

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