Ban on prolife club at university like banning books say Bishops


The New Zealand Catholic Bishops (NZCBC) have expressed concern at the decision of Auckland University’s student Association (AUSA) to ban a ProLife Club.

“The Catholic Church has learned through dark periods in our own history that banning free-thinking and persecuting those with different views is a shameful and retrograde step for society,” said Bishop Patrick Dunn, NZCBC President.

In a referendum 1609 voted in favour of the ban and 1034 voted against the ban. AUSA has a total membership of around 15,000.

The referendum  also questioned whether clubs with a “similar ideology” should be banned from affiliating in the future.

“A student-led group dedicated to advocating on ethical issues surrounding abortion and the welfare and support of women should be a welcome addition to the campus life at any University,” said Bishop Dunn.

“New Zealand is a multi-faith, multi-cultural, multi-race community and our Universities ought to have the capacity to engage in meaningful dialogue on ethical and conscience issues.”

Bishop Dunn went on to say, “I call on all Auckland University students who are committed to human rights and the protection of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion to encourage their representative body to reconsider this narrow-minded and regressive step.”

Co-president of Prolife Auckland Jelena Middleton says that the outcome is “unjust, and legally dubious as it means that a group of students is being punished simply for exercising their legal right to peacefully express legitimate ethical views.”

“What makes this process all the more frightening is the total lack of transparency, and the clear violations of natural justice that it has entailed” says Middleton.

“The referendum process was enacted by a totally anonymous person, the question was vaguely worded, there have never been any grounds given for what prompted such a drastic action, and we were only given a few days to prepare and present our case before the voting opened.”

“It’s doubtful that such an unjust process and outcome would be tolerated in any other sector of a free and open society like New Zealand. We are now seeking legal advice about the legality of this action and how it may have breached the NZ Bill of Rights.”

Results of referenda that do not directly affect AUSA’s financial or administrative processes are automatically binding.

However, the decision will not be finalised until AUSA had sought legal advice regarding the concerns raised by members.

Adam Jacobsen writing for Stuff says that AUSA affiliation was largely a symbolic acknowledgement from the student community that it wishes to be associated with that particular organisation.

Jacobsen said that the Pro Life Club would still be eligible to access university space and distribute information on campus, set up a club stall during orientation week, and receive funding.

But the pro life club has been informed that any application they now make for funding will be opposed by the AUSA on account of the new disaffiliated status.

Middleton said they will also have to pay more for rooms and resources controlled by AUSA now than they would have before when they were an affiliated club.


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