A Kwantlen Polytechnic University student will take legal action against the school's student association following the rejection of his application to start anti-abortion/pro-life club on campus.
First-year student Oliver Capko, who splits his time between Langley and Richmond campuses, submitted a club application to the Kwantlen Student Association in October looking to create a club called Protectores Vitae, to explore pro-life issues with other students. However, as the KSA has taken the position of being pro-choice, and any certified clubs would make them a subsidiary of the student association, his application was rejected.
"I was looking around for a pro-life club, something that supported pro-life issues and not finding one, I thought 'Why not start one?'" explained Capko. "So in the beginning of October I began connecting with students to see if there was any interest for a club of this nature."
After recruiting enough students to qualify for a club, Oliver submitted his package and, four weeks later, was told his application had been rejected, as his club did not align with the views of the KSA.
"So they sent us a letter of rejection on Nov. 9 and we were definitely disappointed," said Oliver. "Here was a student association supposed to represent its students but yet they ruled against us.
"It is unfortunate that we have to sue our own student representatives in order to secure equal and fair treatment on campus."
In response, Oliver has enlisted the help of lawyer John Carpay, who has sent a letter to the KSA demanding the group be granted club status.
"The student union has no legal authority to impose its own views about a moral or political issue on all students by denying club status to students who disagree with the student union." said Carpay, also president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms in a statement.
Court papers are expected to be filed the week of Dec. 10 to 14.
Over at the KSA, Christopher Girodat, director of student services and chair of the executive committee, said the club's rejection was consistent with KSA policy, as the student association is careful to approve only clubs that they would be comfortable with becoming subsidiaries.
Girodat was also quick to point out that there was a second category of groups Capko could have applied to, which are known as 'Recognized Groups.'
"These are generally groups that support political parties, religious organizations or controversial causes or issues," said Girodat. "The difference there is that they are just not subsidiary organizations like the clubs are, so we don't provide them with direct funding but we do facilitate room bookings, photo-copying for them, free lockers and connecting them with members through our website."
Capko admitted that a major reason he was seeking club status would be for the support network provided by the KSA, but when asked if he would reapply as a recognized group, he was uncertain, as he would like the full support for the group that clubs enjoyed.
"We would just try to get the information out there about pro-life issues in general because what often happens is that there's a great silencing when it comes to life-issues," said Capko. "According to the policies and definitions in their (KSA) club package, it seems that our mandate fits a lot better under their club status. We're more of a cause as we see it."
At press time, the KSA had agreed to revisit Capko's application by Dec. 7.