“Fuck safe space” was the controversial slogan emblazoned across t-shirts worn by frosh leaders at Carleton University that prompted Mathieu Murphy-Perron, a Montreal-based playwright, photographer, and activist, to write an editorial on his blog, matness, in early September.
In the editorial, Murphy-Perron alleged that the Carleton Undergraduate Students’ Association (CUSA) is linked with the Conservative Party of Canada and has opposed progressive initiatives on campus, as well as altering the CUSA’s Discrimination Policy to weaken its protection of marginalized students.
Days later, the CUSA and its former president, Alexander Golovko, issued a legal threat to Murphy-Perron, of rabble.ca — where the article was cross-posted — and Jarrah Hodge, a writer and editor, for sharing a link to the article on her website, gender-focus.com. The threat, sent on September 11 by Ottawa law firm Caza Saikaley on behalf of Golovko and “members of the CUSA administration,” condemned Murphy-Perron’s article as “absolutely false, defamatory, factually baseless and designed to destroy our clients’ impeccable reputation and cause harm to their families.” The threat also requested the removal of the article.
CUSA set aside $80,000 for legal expenses in 2013-2014, according to their budget. On September 24, CUSA published a statement stating that no legal action had been taken and that the CUSA “was and remains concerned that a significant portion of the editorial did not accurately represent the work and reputation of this student association.” The statement also said that “CUSA is not in a legal dispute” with rabble.ca or Murphy-Perron.
Alex Watson and Arun Smith, Carleton University students, wrote a letter in response to the legal threat, published October 1, wherein they argued that Murphy-Perron’s article was fair comment and urged the CUSA to halt “their continued frivolous expenditure of student funds.” As of press time, the editorial is available online.