‘Pro-Life’ O-Week Stall Incites Anger amongst Students
A ‘Pro-Life’ stall at the University of Sydney’s O-Week celebrations has drawn attention for its stance against abortion. In particular, the ‘Lifechoice’ stall has been exhibiting photos of aborted foetuses to students.
It seems this club is no stranger to controversy amongst student politicians. In June 2012 the USU Board voted 6-5 to allow LifeChoice Sydney, a pro-life group, to become an official USU club. LifeChoice had previously been rejected by the C&S Committee, which all clubs must go through to be approved, on the grounds that its “aims were too narrow”.
Shortly after the approval of the club, the USU issued a statment defending their decision.
"The USU Board is not a moral arbiter and is obliged to comply with the USU’s governing documents. Therefore, based on the USU’s regulations and constitution, the society was approved after a vote of 5-5 and the casting vote made by the Chair. This was in no way a vote to endorse a particular ideology or stance and the USU remains a non-partisan organisation."
Maddy Ward, a member of the University of Sydney Wom*n’s Collective, was outraged at the existence of the club.
"The fact that the USU allows an organisation that intimidates and advocates for the removal of reproductive rights is majorly off colour.”
“A stall with traumatising photos of aborted foetal matter and other materials intended to frighten people into submission is entirely inappropriate for Orientation Week."
Pulp contacted the USU for comment on why the stall had been allowed a space at O-Week, and a representative responded that they "could not comment on the status of individual clubs and societies. However, if any formal complaints are lodged we will investigate the substance of those claims.”
Anna Hush, former Wom*n’s Collective Officer, attempted to have the society defunded last year due to scheduling issues with their Annual General Meeting that contravened the USU’s C&S Regulations, however was unsuccessful. Hush speculated that the club’s stall was once again in breach of regulations.
“I think that LifeChoice breaches clubs and societies regulations by harassing, intimidating and discriminating against people who have had abortions, and people who have experienced sexual assault by showing people pictures of aborted foetuses, and telling people that rape survivors should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term.”
The section of the C&S Regulations to which Hush refers to reads, “Funding applications will not be processed for: (xiv) Any activities that discriminate or harass on the basis of sex, race, age, marital status, sexuality, religion, or disability; or defame, coerce, intimidate or physically threaten an individual or group.”
The USU Board Directors were contacted for comment on whether a breach in regulations had indeed occurred. They had not responded at the time of publication.