Student won't be punished for satirical posters

A University of Alberta student whose satirical posters had him facing probation or expulsion learned Wednesday he won't be charged after all.

A University of Alberta student whose satirical posters had him facing probation or expulsion learned Wednesday he won't be punished after all.

Derek Warwick, a fourth-year women's studies student, said the posters were supposed to be a humorous way to get people talking about comments from the university president about a decline in male enrolment.

University of Alberta student Derek Warwick says a misunderstanding led campus security to tell him he had violated the student code of conduct by putting up posters that poked fun at comments made by the university president. ((CBC))
The posters carry slogans like "Only white men can save our university" and "Women are attacking campus."

"Our posters were in no way hateful or malicious," Warwick said. "I think that we were again using humour to create dialogue, and I don't think there is anything wrong with that."

Warwick said he was called to the security office at the university and told he was being charged with the distribution of malicious material under the Code of Student Behavior and that he could be put on probation or expelled over the incident.

"We were told that there had been complaints about the posters that had been put up — that some people had interpreted them as being sexist," he said.

"I think there are very few people who would agree with campus security's decision to press charges."

'Clever and creative'

"I thought the posters were clever; I thought they were creative," said University President Indira Samarasekera.

She said the discipline threatened by security did not come at the instigation of her office. 

One of the satirical posters that got student Warwick into hot water. ((CBC))
"I was flattered that somebody actually read what I said in the newspapers," Samarasekera said. "So, I thought, that's what the university's all about, expression of people's ideas and opinions. I didn't find them a problem at all."

Samarasekera's comments referred to the decline in the proportion of male students at universities across Canada. She says she stands by those remarks.

"They were based on emerging facts," Samarasekera said. "If you look at the last 15 years, for example, there has been a much more significant growth of women attending university relative to men.

"Society needs the best of both genders to develop passions for a particular area and to come into a university and contribute."