Ontario universities still don’t really want free speech on campus

National Post
Free Speech James Alexander Michie

Students rally in support of free speech at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., on Nov. 24, 2017. Dave Abel/Toronto Sun

It is already well known that the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities of Ontario, during the month of August 2018, forced all colleges and universities to design a policy. This policy should deal with freedom of expression. Thus, it should be ready by January 1, 2019.

It is necessary to emphasize that these policies should be consolidated taking as a point of reference to the principles of the declaration of the University of Chicago. Regarding freedom of expression. Where it should be clearly stated that “universities and colleges should be places for open discussion and free consultation”. Similarly, “they should not try to protect students from ideas or opinions they disagree with or find “offensive”. Likewise, “while members of the university or university are free to criticize and refute the opinions expressed on campus cannot obstruct or interfere with the freedom of others to express their opinions”. And of course, “speech that violates the law is not allowed”.

Indignant teachers

It is no secret that the teachers’ unions were really outraged. In fact, they were against this measure. Those who did were both the Confederation of Associations of University Faculties of Ontario and the Canadian Association of University Professors.

For them, this measure simply limits freedom of expression by violating the autonomy of the university. While in the same way, they considered that the universities had sufficient protections. Being that in fact, there are university websites where various statements about academic freedom are reflected.

Now in 2019, we can see how the universities performed with respect to the subject. And in fact, it has been said that there are only two that provide unconditional protection of freedom of expression, without reservations due to strange considerations. And it is necessary to say that there are 17 university policies, of which, as already mentioned, there are only two that provide such protection.

Emphasizing the declaration of the University of Chicago, which is the supposed model on which they were based, it is understood that although the university values civility very much, and although all the members of the university community share the responsibility of maintaining a climate of mutual respect, you can never use the concerns for civility and mutual respect as a justification to close the discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas are for some people in the community. And that is specifically where almost all other policies fall short.

Source: National Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *