Brandon University students can now join a pro-life club on campus.
After a year of negotiations, the Brandon University Students’ Union granted Students for Life club status earlier this month, giving members a chance to introduce themselves and their agenda at Tuesday’s clubs day on campus.
"What we want to do is anything that fosters and promotes life, so from conception to natural death, that’s our focus as a club," said Catherine Dubois, president of Brandon Students for Life. "Most people don’t even know what pro-life is and what that means … so it’s good to help educate, connect and engage our peers in a conversation."
Besides pro-life, the club will also address other issues including gender inequality, domestic violence and poverty.
Although BU already has a Women’s Collective group on campus, Dubois believed it was necessary to represent another point of view.
"The majority of pro-life issues are affecting people university age," she said. "I also feel like because the Women’s Collective is pro-choice, it’s good to have the different viewpoint."
But when Dubois looked into obtaining club status last year, she was told the students’ union would not approve a pro-life club because of the controversy it might cause on campus.
Members of the group filed for status again in January, only to receive a rejection notice a month later, citing conflicts between BUSU’s bylaws and club’s constitution.
After modifying its constitution, the club re-submitted its proposal in March, but in April was informed that the students’ union wanted to defer the decision to next year’s council, preventing the club from having status on campus for a year.
In response, the students brought in John Carpay, a lawyer and president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, who informed the students’ union that legal action would be taken if the club continued to be denied status.
"It is illegal for a student union to deny club status on the basis of the club’s beliefs, opinions or philosophy," Carpay said in a BU news release this week. "All students are required to pay dues to the student union and all students enjoy the same right to start the club of their choice."
Before resorting to legal action, the club was granted status.
"There were people who felt like they wanted this club so we wanted to represent all students as much as possible," said Jenna Clinton, BUSU vice-president external. "They’re not the type of people that are going to go around attacking people.
"We gave them a little bit of trust in that regard and the university also has a policy in place where if they do anything to offend anybody, we can revoke their club status."
Clinton added that they were given club status on the basis that they focus on other issues besides pro-life.
"They are a pro-life group, that is part of their group, but that’s not the only thing they’ll focus on."
While visiting booths on clubs day, BU student Aleca Antonakis admitted the new club piqued her interest.
"Clubs are always good to get involved in," she said. "It is a sensitive topic … so it’s really great to have a club like that."
The club plans to host monthly events focusing on a variety of topics, Dubois said.
"We just want to meet other pro-life students, kind of engage people, get people to know that there are other people out there that are pro-life and kind of start a conversation about what pro-life is and what that entails," she said. "It’s a great opportunity to meet people in the community, the university and network all together."
Dubois said she wanted to start a pro-life group after her best friend was killed in a car accident two years ago.
"She was just so full of life and so full of energy … it’s to promote life because she was taken way too early," she said. "It’s my tribute to her."
Another new club on campus this year is St. John Ambulance Brandon University, which provides club members with free standard level and medical first responder first aid training, in exchange for 60 hours of volunteer work.
"It’s a very significant volunteer opportunity," said Kendra Elliot, president of St. John Ambulance Brandon University.
"We do the Wheat King games, summer fair, winter fair … we’re doing Rock the Block (on Friday)."
It’s also good for students studying medicine, Elliot said.
"It definitely has appeal with the first aid training and you get to make some really great friends."
Students are welcome to join clubs on campus throughout the school year.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 12, 2013