By Joe Friesen
The Life Issues Awareness group was approved on a secret ballot by the RyeSAC board of directors last night.
After a lengthy debate, 12 board members voted in favour of the group’s application. Eight were opposed. Group president Erin Hunking, who is also a board member, abstained from the vote. ”
We didn’t even dream that we were going to get ratified,” said an elated Hunking. “It’s nice to have a surprise.”
The Life Issues Awareness Group are, like any new club, officially on probation for three months. If students raise concerns about the group, who will also receive $500 from RyeSAC, their official status could be rescinded.
The board’s decision to vote secretly was passed without debate. The motion was initiated by Victor Volfson, who said he thought board members would feel more comfortable being discrete about their views.
Board member Chris Drew, who told reporters he voted against the new group, was critical of the decision to hold the vote in secret.
“I think that our constituents should know where we stand on every issue,” said Drew.
RyeSAC president Ken Marciniec also went public with his opposition to the group. They were perceived by many to be a crude re-packaging of the anti- abortion organization rejected by the board last year.
“I think it was obvious from the debate that people understood it to be an issue of freedom of speech,” said Marciniec. “The board has been clearly reassured that it’s not an advocacy group for any opinions, it’s just simply a forum for debate.”
The Life Issues Awareness group said they hope to bring speakers to campus to discuss issues like euthanasia, stem cell research and abortion from a medical, not moral, perspective.
“We would like to encourage debate on both sides and we are not focused on one particular side. We want to have an open discussion,” said Hunking.
Hunking has also offered to engage the Women’s Centre in a debate about abortion.