RELEASE: UBC Vancouver student union warned to instate club status for men’s issues group

VANCOUVER: The Justice Centre has sent a legal warning letter to the University of British Columbia Vancouver AMS Student Society demanding that it reverse its decision to deny club recognition to the student group Advocacy for Men and Boys (AMB) after rejecting the group’s application on three separate occasions.

AMB’s mandate seeks to “build a movement centered on raising awareness of issues affecting Men and Boys through public education through positive, non-violent activism for a healthier society.” AMB seeks to engage with students about issues such as men’s health, fathers and family issues, suicide, violence, safety, workplace issues, misandry and the justice system.

Without being granted club status by the AMS Student Society, AMB cannot participate in Club Days and Imagine Day, book space in buildings owned by the AMS Student Society or UBC Vancouver without paying a fee, or access general funding available to all AMS Student Society-constituted student clubs.

AMB first applied to become an AMS Student Society-constituted club in August 2016. On September 14, 2016, AMB received an email from then-Associate VP Administration Rob Willoughby stating that the application had been denied because AMB’s mandate “overlapped” with the mandate of the Healthier Masculinities Program.

AMB applied for club status again on January 31, 2017. Executive members of the club met with then-VP Administration for the AMS Student Society, Chris Scott, on February 24, 2017, to discuss the AMB Club’s application. On March 16, 2017, Chris Scott emailed AMB to state he had denied their application. In his email Mr. Scott cited AMB’s association with the UBC Free Speech club and AMB’s association with the Canadian Association For Equality (“CAFE”) as reasons for his decision. He further told the club that it was the opinion of the Women’s Centre and Feminist Collective that AMB was “insufficiently cooperative” with the Feminist Collective.

AMB applied for club status a third time on September 28, 2017. On October 31, Pooja Bhatti, VP Administration for the Alma Mater Society, emailed AMB to state their application had again been denied. This time, the reason provided was that AMB’s “goals are fulfilled by… the Healthy Masculinities program,” which Ms. Bhatti claimed is “very similar” to AMB’s mandate.

The Justice Centre is representing AMB members as it seeks to reverse the AMS Student Society decision to deny club status. Justice Centre president John Carpay explains: “Student union executives are not entitled to discriminate against students or groups whose expression they disagree with.  Yet, students at UBC are being denied their fundamental right to have equal access to AMS Student Society services—services they pay for through mandatory student fees.”