In late January 2017, one of our members, Chad Hagel, was approached by The Medium, the student newspaper at UTM to give an interview regarding the responses UTMSFL had been receiving from students during their recent outreach activities. While Mr. Hagel complied with their request, the interview was never published. In accordance with publishing laws and the right to the freedom of speech, UTMSFL is now publishing this interview in the hopes of inspiring hearts and minds on campus.
What types of responses are you getting from the student body in regards to your group’s message? A mixed or varied reaction?
The responses we have been getting from the student body have been overwhelmingly positive. Whether it has been myself or one of the club members, we have all been impressed by the conversations we have had with our peers on campus. With 300 abortions happening each day in Canada, it is not an easy subject to discuss. However, it is made much easier when both parties are open to talk with each other, ask questions, and engage in productive dialogue. My club members and I have been profoundly impacted by the people we have met through our activism, and many of the people we have spoken to have admitted openly we have given them something to think about.
How does your team find the best way to approach students and start these conversations?
The best way to talk about abortion is through effective, visible and proactive dialogue, and we at UTMSFL have implemented a structure to ensure this is always practiced. All of our active members have received formal training from either us or other pro-life organizations in Canada. Besides introducing participants to the fundamental arguments supporting the pro-life position as it relates to abortion, we also emphasize the duty to conduct ourselves in a manner that invites people to talk to us, as well as support those who are in need of our support. Since our activism includes the use of abortion victim photography, we also train people how to use it appropriately and in a way that is peaceful and non-violent. Since abortion is violence, UTMSFL condemns all forms of violence, a sentiment we reflect by having all our volunteers sign an agreement form that prohibits those who have signed it from taking violent means to spread our message. We have found these strategies essential in creating the best way to approach students and start conversations through our tabling.
What do you hope comes from talking to students around campus?
In talking to students around campus, our hope is make abortion unthinkable in Canada. Statistics show that men and women aged 18 to 25 – the age range of the average university student, in other words – are the demographic most likely to have abortions. University campuses are where our future lawyers, doctors and politicians are being educated and formed. We are facing an emergency of unparalleled proportions. Pre-born children are being killed, with a hundred thousand killed each year in Canada alone. Lives are on the line. With the future of our society literally being threatened by the injustice of abortion, and that same future being written by the education we receive on campus, what better place to start the conversation than right here, right now?
Where does your current lawsuit with UTMSU stand? What are your hopes for the suit? What are your group’s future plans? Are there any court/hearing dates set? Have you been in contact with the UTMSU at all recently?
Our lawsuit has not progressed since our questioning in March 2016. We have no hopes for the suit, besides just watching it play out. UTMSFL’s plan at the present moment is to continue broaching the topic of abortion outside the classroom and provide support to those who need it. There are no court dates set, and we have not been in contact with UTMSU.
Chad Hagel is the current President of UTMSFL, as of February 2017.