SFSS adopts new reproductive rights policy, causes SFU Lifeline to no longer be recognized as a club

SFU Lifeline intends to challenge the policy

Photo courtesy of Peak Archives

Written by: Michelle Gomez, Assistant News Writer

As of December 2019, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) has decided to adopt a reproductive rights policy. This policy has caused SFU Lifeline to no longer be recognized as an SFSS club. 

Amongst other conditions, the policy states that the SFSS opposes any activities “that interfere, intimidate or attempt to intimidate students from making informed decisions about sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.” 

It also opposes distributing material that are “intended to shock, disturb, or harass students into adopting a particular belief with respect to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights (including abortion).” 

The policy further states that the SFSS will not recognize any group that does not adhere to these principles. 

Sylvia Ceacero, Executive Director of the SFSS said in an email to The Peak that the “SFSS’ adoption of this policy confirms our stance on women’s reproductive rights.” 

SFU Lifeline’s club mandate, states that the club “advocates for pre-born children, whose human rights are violated by abortion [ . . . ] [they] are dedicated to raising awareness about this issue, and providing women with the support and resources they need to make a life-affirming choice that respects both mother and child.” 

Health Sciences Representative Osob Mohamed explained in an interview with The Peak that not recognizing a group as an SFSS club entails not providing resources to the club, including funding and room booking privileges. She noted that despite this, “they are free to organize on campus as any other external group does.” 

According to Mohamed, SFSS Board members had been in discussion about the matter since 2015. She explained that during the last board term, the SFSS Council put forward a request that the Board formally look into the issue. She also noted that students also contacted the SFSS about this.

An online petition created by SFU students in 2019 states that “We the students are outraged that SFU allows such discriminatory political views to be spread on campus.” At the time of writing this article, it has generated 234 signatures. 

SFU Lifeline vice-president Lily Moric (with assistance from president Lois Umali), wrote in an email interview with The Peak that “our freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression are being violated by the SFSS when they refuse to support any student club that does not agree with their pro-choice view.” 

She explained that without room booking privileges and hallway permits, the club would have to pay around $10,000 per year to continue operating as they are now. 

“It is [the SFSS’s] job to represent the student body as a whole, and this necessarily entails endorsing clubs with opposing views.” 

Moric added that Lifeline will be challenging the policy. So far, they have created a petition that has generated 520 signatures at the time of writing. 

Mohamed noted that “[SFU Lifeline’s] freedom to express themselves I don’t think is being infringed upon in this case, it’s more so a matter of the resources that we won’t provide.” 

“Of course people do have pro-life stances and they are free to express that. The issue that we had with Lifeline was a lot of distribution of materials particularly that were quite damaging to some of our students’ mental well-being.”