In early March, Stirling University’s Students’ Union suspended its Catholic Society for supporting an anti-abortion protest outside the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.
According to Vice President Communities Jess Reid’s statement, the society did not adhere to the Students’ Union’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy.
On March 17, Reid announced in a follow-up statement that the Students’ Union does not have the legal means to prevent the society from attending the protest, and to continue supporting freedom of speech on campus, cannot permanently suspend the society.
Brig has reached out to several Stirling University students on what their opinions are on the situation.
What do Stirling students think of the Catholic Society’s anti-abortion messages?
“I don’t agree with their message,” said Aj Whyte, a third-year English and Journalism student. “I think every woman should have the right to choose, [and that] every person who becomes pregnant has the right [to decide] whether they want to keep it or not.”
Louis Gallagher, who studies Sports Development and Coaching, is “not a fan” of the anti-abortion campaign and thinks that “most people probably agree with that.”
Manoo Sitta, a Human Psychology student, is “not surprised” that the society supports such messages.
“It is in their holy books that they should not support abortion. So, it’s not a surprise. Should they have done it? No, because at the end of the day – not everybody’s Catholic, not everybody’s Christian, not everybody’s Muslim. Not everybody’s religious. Not everybody’s going to listen to you all. Who are we to tell the next person what to do?
“Don’t tell [a person] to get rid of the baby or keep the baby. That’s not your job to do.”
Alexander Lockwood, a 22-year-old student, doesn’t agree with the society’s protest: “I support women’s rights to choose if they want an abortion or not, and I’m certainly against [anti-abortion].
“Everybody should have the right to protest but at the same time, protesting in front of a hospital is in poor taste.”
Louis Uty, a Computing Science and Philosphy student, wonders about what happens to the people that are victims of rape.
“Do you [still] agree that they should still keep the baby or not? I say the most logical thing would be to not keep the baby. So what do you do? And do you actually care about the kids? Because when it comes to the foster care system, which is a huge system, there’s no talk about that. You don’t care about kids at the end of the day.
“This is really a conversation about powers, not really about kids. I feel like the minute you see it that way, then you really see what’s the truth behind it.”
Where do the students stand on the society’s reinstatement?
Zoey Thomas, a fourth-year Film and Media student, can’t wrap her head around why the society made a comeback: “It’s just ridiculous.” And many other students agree.
Manoo isn’t shocked that the society got reinstated: “If we’re going be real, it’s [because of] their privilege. Catholicism is a big thing, so they’ve got all the respect, but I’m not surprised about them being unsuspended. It is what it is.”
A fourth-year English and Journalism student similarly isn’t surprised that “the law is acting as a sort of ‘block’ in society’s attempt to progress regarding these types of opinions.”
“I’ll always be an advocate of people who favour personal choice over those who try to suppress that. They have the right to their opinions, and I appreciate that it’s polarising, but I’ll never be able to get behind it.”
Aj thinks that “it’s unfortunate that the law is not on the Union’s side in terms of the suspension. This is why I think it’s important for these buffer zone laws to be implemented and passed.”
Charlie Grant, who studies Digital Media, considers it a “tricky” situation.
He said: “I understand that by law that [the Union] legally can’t suspend them for freedom of speech reasons, but at the same time, it can cause harm to people, you know, and it can be quite a difficult subject to talk about.”
Louis Uty feels that “it was more of a performative thing at the end.”
“We lead the African Caribbean Society. If we did something similar, we’d be shut down or de-platformed. I feel like race, [and] privilege, they come together for why the Catholic Society was forgiven.”
How do the students feel about there being a society at the university that supports anti-abortion?
“I get that everyone has their own opinions,” said AJ. “But I think it’s weird to know that there are people out there that don’t think I should be able to have an abortion if I want one.”
Alexander thinks that there being a society at the university with such beliefs “doesn’t look very good on the University.”
“If I’m not mistaken, all societies at the university to some extent represent the university since the university provides [them with] some funding. I don’t think it looks very good for the University to be represented by societies that conduct such activities.”
Ludovico Caminati, who studies International Politics, feels “sad that there is a society like that at our university” as “we have a very welcoming and inclusive university, Union, and student body as a whole.”
“It does make me angry to know that there are people who are happy to shame others just because they want to have a choice over their body and their life.”
It’s not your choice. It’s my body. If I don’t want to be pregnant, I’m not gonna be pregnant.Aj Whyte
Louis Uty thinks “it’s okay to have your thoughts,” but feels “like the difference with them [is that] they have the power at the end.”
Manoo believes that if “there can be a society that supports women to have an abortion, there’s going to be the society that has opinions where it’s the complete opposite.”
“It’s about respect and consideration. You can have your opinions and you can have your mindset, but keep it within the ones who [share it]. You don’t have to go to the next side and say, this is why we’re right and this is why we should have a bigger voice than you, because you don’t.
“We’re all equal. So, at the end of the day, you have no right and no power, to overpower anybody who’s got a different mindset or a different view on what you believe in.”
Featured Image Credit: University of Stirling Catholic Society / Facebook
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