At 2 p.m. on Sept. 10, three pro-life advocacy group members from Youth Protecting Youth were speaking to UVic students at Clubs and Course Unions Day when their table was vandalized. Two women rushed the scene, stole three fetal models, and ripped open bags of cat litter and feces onto the table.
A bystander was able to run after the women and collect the fetal models, valued at $300. The women escaped the scene via bicycle, before anyone was able to call campus security.
Secretary and treasurer Barnabas Ney was at the scene. “It happened so fast, there were so many people in the room,” he said. Both Ney and co-president Adrian Canagasuriam hope it is an isolated incident.
“We have to condemn their action, but also respond with compassion,” Canagasuriam said. “Abortion is a very sensitive issue, and potentially contentious, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it.”
Youth Protecting Youth faced many challenges involving the UVSS since 2008, including a denial of club status in February 2010. The club was then reinstated following protests. Although one of the attackers was said to be in her 30-40s, Canagasuriam is confident there is no longer any harboured hatred since being reinstated.
UVSS Chairperson Kayleigh Erickson released a statement on Sept. 11 highlighting the UVSS’s commitment to a safe environment for all students. The statement also references the University’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy, which allows any students to report discrimination to the university. YPY is satisfied with how the UVSS treated the situation, Canagasuriam said.
“We are an advocacy group, ultimately. If we let these kinds of criminals intimidate or silence us, we wouldn’t be doing our job,” he said.
YPY will be taking security precautions to maintain safety for all club members, including contacting campus security before hosting an outdoor event. Ney encourages any student to come forward for polite, respectful discussion.
“A little cat shit isn’t going to stop us.” Canagasuriam said. “Just because you don’t agree with someone, doesn’t mean you can silence them.”