By Yohannes Edemariam
Some students are concerned and angry that an anti-abortion group without official RyeSAC status distribute information at a campus event.
A group calling themselves the Ryerson Choose Life Association set up a booth at Campus Caravan, a RyeSAC sponsored event held on Jan. 15, and distributed leaflets condemning abortion.
Ken Marciniec, RyeSAC vice-president education, called the pamphlets harmful.
“This group is promoting the notion that abortion is an excuse or a cause for male violence against women and also violence against children,” said Marciniec. “That’s obviously false – it’s ridiculous and offensive.”
President of the Ryerson Choose Life Association Mike Nieznalski denied the allegations and said his organization had a right to be at the event.
“Every student has the right to be heard and for that purpose student clubs for formed,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t understand what the harmful message is. We are here to promote life.”
In a letter written to the RyeSAC executive by the Women’s Centre, RyeSAC Community Service groups and Alex Lisman, a member of the Board of Directors, an investigation was requested to determine how the group was permitted to take part in the RyeSAC sponsored event.
“Materials distributed perpetuate problematic myths and hate towards women who chose to determine their own choices about their own bodies,” it read. “Statements found in the leaflets equate women who choice [sic] abortion, for any reason, as warmongers, killers and evil.”
Some statements in the pamphlets include “Every abortion kills two – the child, and the conscience of the mother,” and “The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion because it is a war against the child-murder by the mother herself.”
Leatrice Spevack, RyeSAC campus groups’ administrator, said the anti-abortion group contacted her and it wasn’t a problem that they had a booth.
“When a new group wants to start up, if they approach me at a certain time of the year, I will always tell them [to] set up at a table during this event so [they] will be able to collect the twenty required signatures [they] need to start a group,” said Spevack.
In order to take part in events such as Campus Caravan Day and receive university funding, groups need to be officially registered with RyeSAC.
RyeACT recently became an official RyeSAC affiliate group, which allows them to participate in events, put up posters with a RyeSAC stamp, and book rooms at Oakham House.
While Lisman and many in his group hold pro-choice views on abortion, he felt the main problem was that the Ryerson Choose Life Association was given a table.
“We are asking why was a group that was unofficial given a table while we’ve struggled for years to get those kinds of rights,” he said.