Let international students compete, says Civil Liberties Association

OTTAWA, June 10, 2013 /CNW/ - The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is urging the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) to drop a discriminatory practice that limits the participation of international student athletes in varsity sports.

"The CCLA opposes unfair discrimination against non-citizens in all areas of law," said Nathalie Des Rosiers, general Counsel for the Association.  "We are particularly concerned because later this week, the CCAA will be considering a motion to extend this discriminatory measure and further limit the participation of international students in collegiate varsity sports".

The CCAA is the governing body for collegiate varsity sports in Canada. For the last twenty years it has enforced a policy limiting the number of international students per team - two for basketball and volleyball, and three in soccer. The policy is being reviewed at its Annual Conference in Montreal this week and members will be asked to vote on a motion to extend the restrictions to a number of other varsity sports, including badminton, golf and curling.

The CCLA was alerted to this situation by Holland College of PEI. The college has been pushing to have this policy reversed for several years, arguing that it is contrary to the values of inclusion and participation that are a core element of their brand and that it hurts its ability to recruit internationally.

"At Holland College, we recruit international students from several markets, including the Caribbean and the northeastern United States," said Michael O'Grady, Holland College Vice President, Innovation, Enterprise & Strategic Development.

"But time and again, we hear from prospective students -- and often their friends and family--that restrictions on varsity sports are a negative factor in their consideration of joining our school. At a time when Canadian educational institutions are intent on increasing international student numbers, this discriminatory policy adversely affects our country's reputation as a welcoming post-secondary destination."

Last year the college had written to the Minister of Amateur Sport urging him to use his good offices to have the policy withdrawn.

The CCLA has written to all college presidents and their athletic directors urging them to vote to eliminate discriminatory policy in favour of an even playing field for all student athletes.

SOURCE: Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)

For further information:

Massimo Bergamini, 613 290 5317 (cell)
Nathalie Des Rosiers, CCLA, ndesrosiers@ccla.org 
416 363 03231, ext. 230 or 613 314 5902 (cell)
Michael O'Grady, Holland College, 902 393 2125 (cell)

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