DSU says “nay” to controversial law school

Students from the Schulich School of Law led the move to have the DSU challenge Trinity Western. (Photo by Melina Garner)

Students from the Schulich School of Law led the move to have the DSU challenge Trinity Western. (Photo by Melina Garner)

The Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) will be urging the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society to not recognize graduates of an upcoming law school that is gathering controversy.

Trinity Western is a private Christian liberal arts university in Langley, B.C.. Last year they were approved to open a new law school. Now, the decision of whether degrees from the law school should be considered legitimate rests in the hands of individual provinces.

Trinity’s controversial stance on gay rights issues have some Barrister’s Societies considering whether the law school should be accredited.

At Trinity Western, students are subject to disciplinary action if they engage in homosexual acts. This was brought up in a Supreme Court battle over their right to own a teacher’s college over a decade ago.

The law school is set to open in September 2016, but the backlash over the school’s policies threaten to make degrees from the school useless in some provinces.

“It is certainly hard to appreciate the double jeopardy that [Trinity Western] faces,” says Bob Kuhn, interim president of Trinity Western. “After having followed the rules and gone through the processes that we were told to do, and everyone else went through, [Trinity Western] is facing a reaction based on a perception of a specific characterization of the issue.”

“Which, in my view, is inaccurate and denies that 18-month process that we went through.”

Leah Staples, president of the Dalhousie OutLaw society, gave her position on the matter at the Jan. 29 DSU meeting.

“It would be a violation of multiple human rights and the charter if we would allow religious freedom to trump [sexual] rights,” said Staples.

“We already have so many barriers for getting into university anyways, and so many for getting into law school, period, around class, race, sex, gender, ability. To be having a discussion now is a good chance to look at those barriers and make those more accessible.”

A motion for the DSU to urge the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society to not accredit Trinity Western’s law school passed almost unanimously.

Alberta is the only province currently planning to accredit Trinity Western law degrees.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the opening date for the law school at Trinity Western University. The new faculty will open September 2016. The Gazette regrets the error and any confusion it may have caused.

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