EDMONTON (CCN) — The University of Alberta Pro-Life student group is planning to appeal after a provincial court ruled in favour of the university’s right to charge $17,500 in security fees as a condition to host a public event on campus.
The decision, which was filed Oct. 11, ruled that as a registered student group, UAlberta Pro-Life remains subject to the university’s rules and policies.
“It is unfortunate that the judge didn’t seem to recognize a lot of the problems with this situation,” UAlberta Pro-Life past president Amberlee Nicol said. “We’re not taking it lying down.”
Nicol said she and her fellow club members are consulting their lawyers to discuss the next steps.
“I think that if this precedent is allowed to stand, it’s rather a scary precedent,” said Nicol. “It means that essentially any large enough group of students, if they decide they don’t want a certain opinion to exist on campus, all they have to do is break the rules and make it too expensive for people to express their views on campus.”
The university first imposed the security fee as a condition for the student club to host a public demonstration on campus grounds in February 2016. The students were planning to set up a series of displays that “showed the consequences of abortion.”
Eleven days before the scheduled event, the student group received an email from the University of Alberta Protective Services (UAPS) with a security assessment and a $17,500 bill. According to the email, the costs were to cover the UAPS officers on special duty and Edmonton police, as well as a double-perimeter fence “ensuring that sidewalks remain unobstructed.”
Unable to afford these fees, the group cancelled the event.
These security measures were drafted in consideration of a similar event that took place the previous year, which the student group claimed to have been violently shut down by pro-choice students.
On April 26, 2016, the group decided to file a lawsuit claiming that imposition of the security fees infringed on the pro-lifers’ freedom of speech.