Press Release: U of A President challenged to uphold rule of law on campus

EDMONTON: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) has called on Dr. Indira Samarasekera, President of the University of Alberta, to uphold the rule of law on campus, in the interest of the safety and security of all students.

In a letter written on behalf of the University of Alberta campus club Go-Life, the JCCF has provided details of a pattern of persistent theft and vandalism, starting in September 2014 and continuing through to February 2015, directed against posters put up by Go-Life members to advertise scheduled and authorized campus club events.  Over the course of five months, over 3,000 Go-Life posters have been torn down, effectively destroying the value of over 70 hours of volunteer labour expended by club members to put up the posters.

Three University of Alberta students have stated openly in Facebook posts that they have torn down Go-Life posters.

Go-Life club members presented the Facebook posts to the University of Alberta Protective Services (UAPS) on February 10,, 2015.  As of February 26, 2015, UAPS had not yet taken disciplinary action against the three students, in spite of their written admissions to destroying property that did not belong to them.

“All students at the University of Alberta have a right to feel safe and secure on campus, regardless of the student’s beliefs about abortion or any other controversial issue,” stated Amberlee Nicol, a second-year education student and president of Go-Life.

“The theft and vandalism of a student’s property, whether for political or ideological reasons or for any other reason, should not be condoned by Protective Services,” stated Kianna Owen, a first-year nursing student and the secretary of Go-Life.

Apart from the Criminal Code provisions regarding theft and property damage, the University of Alberta’s own Code of Student Behaviour also prohibits this behaviour:

30.3.5(1) a No Student shall possess, misappropriate, convert, destroy or otherwise damage University property or the property of any other member of the University Community.
. . .

30.3.6(2) a No Student shall engage in conduct that violates any municipal by-law, Provincial or Federal statute or regulation, or University regulation (Rules External to the Code). Conduct that breaches Rules External to the Code shall be deemed to be an offence under this Code and shall be subject to the disciplinary and appeal processes set out in this Code, if the conduct has a real and substantial link to the University, University Activities, the University Community, or University-related Functions, whether or not the conduct occurred on or in relation to University property.

“For the University of Alberta and Protective Services to condone this behaviour sends a message to all students that it is acceptable to destroy or damage the property of people that you disagree with,” stated lawyer John Carpay, president of the JCCF.

“In cases like this, where there is compelling evidence that students have engaged in conduct which violates both the Criminal Code and the Code of Student Behaviour, a person’s beliefs or ideological motivation should not be accepted as a justification for such conduct,” continued Carpay.