Students threatened with arrest for leafletting
UBC students handed out leaflets protesting military presence in Libya near Canadian Forces booth
The Ubyssey (University of British Columbia)
VANCOUVER (CUP) — A small protest elicited a strong reaction from security at the University of British Columbia’s Alma Mater Society (AMS) Students’ Union Building (SUB) last week.
A group of about half a dozen students were told they would be arrested if they continued to hand out leaflets protesting the Canadian military presence in Libya.
“I feel like our perspective is really being actively silenced by security,” said Arielle Friedman, one of the students at the protest.
The protest was taking place in front of a Canadian Forces booth at a job fair being held in the main concourse of the SUB.
An AMS security guard at the scene confirmed they had told the students to stop handing out the leaflets or else face arrest.
“If you don’t stop doing it, that’s when I said, ‘You have to leave the building and if you do not leave the building and stop handing out leaflets then we will have to use other force to get you to stop,’” she said.
The security guard went on to say that, because of AMS policy, if the protestors wanted to hand out leaflets, they would have to make a booking with the AMS.
“It’s not about their cause, we have nothing against that,” she said. “It’s [the] policies right now.”
According to one of the recruiters, the protestors were handing out leaflets to people who were trying to get information from the booth. This made it difficult for people to get to the booth itself and also clogged up the hallway for people that were trying to pass by.
“We told them, basically, that if they didn’t give us space for people to come to our booth, that we would talk to security,” said Corporal Evan Clark. “So we did.”
Friedman said the protestors had told AMS security they would move elsewhere in the SUB in order to be less intrusive, but that security insisted they could not hand out leaflets anywhere in the building.
“They clearly said anywhere in the Student Union Building. We offered to accommodate, to make the hall passable for people,” she said. AMS security declined to comment on the event or their policy around leafleting.
Clark, a bachelor of arts student at UBC, said this was his first time recruiting for the armed forces.
“We’re not by any stretch of the means professional recruiters,” he said. “We’re just part-time soldiers.”
He said that the protestors were peaceful, but not pleasant, to the recruiters.
“They weren’t really aggressive,” he said. “They weren’t shouting or pushing, they were just a little antagonistic, trying to say things to get emotional responses.”
Clark went on to say that, although this was his first time recruiting, he wasn’t surprised by the protest.
“When the Canadian Forces is in the public, we do come up with people that protest various things and we’re the target of that sometimes, justly or unjustly,” he said.
“When you’re wearing something like this,” he added, referring to his uniform, “you’re a target, for good or bad.”