Media Statement ~ June 21, 2013
The LifeChoice Student Association condemns the online petition seeking to ban pro-life groups from affiliating with the University Technology Sydney (UTS) Union, as a threat to the free discussion of ideas on campus.
The petition, The UTS Union: Deny LifeChoice’s application to affiliate with the UTS Union, is being organised by members of the UTS Women’s Collective, and claims that pro-life groups like LifeChoice are guilty of intimidation and ‘gender-based harassment’.
LifeChoice spokesperson Ms Belle Whealing stated that the petition was deeply concerning, and represents some students’ unwillingness to tolerate ethical views other than their own.
“The cornerstone of student life is the free expression of ideas”, said Ms Whealing.
“The petition is a flagrant ideological attack against the rights of all students – to freely associate and discuss issues they hold to be important, without needing permission from those students who disagree with them.”
Ms Whealing went on to point out that the petition “fails to identify any incidence of harassment by LifeChoice members on campuses.”
“Instead, it offers a few tired and baseless accusations and a link to a Honi Soit opinion piece – not exactly the type of evidence worthy of an academic environment.”
The free contest of ideas is something all students need to protect, not just pro-lifers, Ms Whealing continued. “What’s the point of being a student if you aren’t willing to be intellectually challenged?”
First year UTS student Monica Helbano called the petition “an embarrassing mess of contradictions”.
“Like political, humanitarian, and religious campus groups, pro-life students have a right to express their views and challenge their peers on how our society treats human life, in line with our university’s aims to ‘Empower each other and our students to grow, contribute, challenge, and make a difference.”
“The petition certainly does not represent the views of all UTS students. We respect free speech – even for those who we don’t agree with”, Ms Helbano concluded.
LifeChoice calls for the UTS Union to uphold the rights of all students to express their views on campus.