The Student Association of Durham College and University of Ontario Institute of Technology (“Student Association”) refused to grant club recognition to the student group, Speak for the Weak, due to its stance on abortion. The Student Association claims that allowing a pro-life club on campus would constitute “systemic societal oppression”, and would violate “human rights”. The Student Association further claims that only clubs which support abortion are “equity-seeking” and therefore allowed on campus.
Speak for the Weak’s application for club status was denied in September 2015. The students spent most of the fall semester unsuccessfully attempting to appeal the decision to the Student Association’s Board of Directors. Without club status, student groups cannot gain access to Student Association space and resources, making it very difficult to conduct activities and engage with the student body.
In a court application filed on behalf of Speak for the Weak, the Justice Centre argued that the Student Association has violated its own policies and rules, failed to follow the principles of natural justice, based its decision on irrelevant considerations, and failed to respect students’ freedoms of expression and association.
On February 7, 2017, the application against the Student Association was consolidated with the cases against UTMSU and the Ryerson Students’ Union. All three cases were heard together in Toronto, January 24, 2018. A decision was released February 26, 2018, with the court dismissing all three challenges.