Unsigned: Laurier LifeLink could benefit from a different approach

Graphic by Lena Yang / File Photo

In case you missed it, a Students’ Union funded club, Laurier LifeLink, held anti-abortion demonstrations on campus last week.

These demonstrations included anti-abortion slogans written on popular sidewalks with chalk, and members of the club were positioned around the displays in an attempt to spark discussion. They were met with a strong pro-choice counter-protest.

In response to the backlash of this situation, the Students’ Union released a statement saying that, though they may or may not agree with the stance of the club, they will support the club and their demonstrations.

While our editorial board may not agree with Laurier LifeLink’s approach or their stance, there is certainly some merit in allowing people to have space for discussion.

Laurier LifeLink is in a class of their own separate from any other funded clubs.

We couldn’t think of, nor find, any club that was comparable to them in their cause. They are arguing against something that is already in law — and they are arguing against the rights of individuals that have already been won in Canadian court.

Though there is certainly a place for this in practicing free speech, no other club actively has to have warnings from the Students’ Union and access to resources in the community when it holds events.

Does a club demonstrating in this way hold any value in sparking discussion? Or does it just leave people on both sides frustrated with each other, unable to have constructive conversations about the topic at hand?

Demonstrations on campus are not uncommon, either. Most clubs set up in the concourse and have discussions with people who are interested, but they are not impeding some people’s journeys to and from class.

Giving people a heads up and a warning is a step in the right direction, but forcing people to be engaged with their material does not appear to be fostering a constructive dialogue.

There are discussions to be had about abortion. But it’s naive to think that the people that anti-abortion protesters are targeting have not looked into other options, nor that this decision is ever an easy one.

Whether we agree with the decision or not, the response from the community showed us that students are uncomfortable and feel unsafe with displays of this kind.

Abortion can be a difficult topic, and forcing students who may have their own individual experiences with it to interact with displays and accusatory statements on their way to class is simply unfair.

Perhaps opting out of LifeLink isn’t feasible for the Students’ Union — it’s a fraction of a fraction of the fees that we pay to them and it would likely be a logistical nightmare with all of the people who would want to opt out of just one club. Plus, opening up the option to opt out of one club means that you would have to provide that same option for every other club on campus.

Regardless, with all the backlash that the club is receiving, and the amount of people that are negatively affected by their protests, something should be done.

Yes, people should be allowed to have differing opinions. However, with the harm it is causing students, there has to be a better way to handle this other than to just brace ourselves and expect the worst. Is this the environment we want on our campus?

Perhaps it might be beneficial for LifeLink to keep their events private, or at the very least, away from areas with such intense student traffic.

This may go completely against the intent of their demonstration, but allowing people who are actually interested to seek them out and find the information on their own would be more effective than hosting public displays.

Does LifeLink have to use their resources for such displays?

Maybe a more positive approach would be petitioning the Students’ Union to provide more resources for students who already have children.

Giving people a heads up and a warning is a step in the right direction, but forcing people to be engaged with their material does not appear to be fostering a constructive dialogue.

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