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Freedom of Expression Policy

Classification number LCG 1140
Framework category Legal, Compliance and Governance
Approving authority Board of Governors
Policy owner Vice-President, Academic and Provost
Approval date November 29, 2018
Review date November 2019

Purpose

The purpose of this Policy is to confirm the principles and management of free expression in the University community.

Definitions

For the purposes of this Policy the following definitions apply:

“Freedom of Expression” means the free expression of ideas and perspectives through a variety of media, including text, performance, images, or the spoken word (free speech), either virtually or physically, by individuals or groups.

“functioning of the University” means carrying out University academic, research, and administrative activities.

“Inclusive Freedom” means a commitment to the robust protection of free expression, including the expression of those who could be marginalized, silenced, or excluded from full participation.

“Online University Environment” means all online media including websites, email, social media accounts, online learning tools and applications provided, managed or self-identified as belonging to the University. This includes the University’s website, branded Twitter and Facebook Live events, as well as online learning and collaboration tools such as Google Apps for Education.

“University Members” means individuals who are:

  • Employed by the University;
  • Registered as a student, in accordance with the academic regulations of the University;
  • Holding an appointment with the University, including paid, unpaid and/or honourific appointments; and/or
  • Otherwise subject to University policies by virtue of the requirements of a specific policy (e.g. Booking and Use of University Space) and/or the terms of an agreement or contract.

“University Space” means any location owned, leased, rented or otherwise occupied by the University.

Scope and authority

This Policy applies to all University Members, authorized visitors, and guests to University Space and the Online University Environment.

The Provost and Vice-President, Academic, or successor thereof, is the Policy Owner and is responsible for overseeing the implementation, administration and interpretation of this Policy.

Policy

The University endeavours to provide a safe environment, conducive to personal and intellectual growth, not only free of discrimination, injustice and actual or threatened violence, but also characterized by understanding, respect, peace, tolerance, trust, openness and fairness. The University is fully committed to promoting and advocating academic freedom and Freedom of Expression. At the same time, it has a responsibility to ensure that all members of its community can reasonably expect to pursue their work and studies in a safe and civil environment.

The University is committed to free and open inquiry into all matters and, therefore, guarantees all of its community members the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, challenge, and learn in an environment of Inclusive Freedom. This policy articulates that commitment, as well as the limits on Freedom of Expression and the constraints on protesting or challenging the Freedom of Expression of other community members.

Assertion of Freedom of Expression

  1. Consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code, all University Members, authorized visitors, and guests are encouraged to express ideas and perspectives freely and respectfully in University Space and in the Online University Environment.

Limits on Freedom of Expression

  1. The Freedom of Expression described in Paragraph 5 is restricted in that it may not:
    • Interfere with the university’s legal obligations and/or violate municipal, provincial or federal law
    • Defame an individual or group
    • Constitute a genuine or credible threat, harassment, or discriminatory harassment based on a protected ground under the Ontario Human Rights Code
    • Breach fiduciary, contractual, privacy, or confidentiality obligations or commitments
    • Unduly disrupt and significantly interfere with the functioning of the University
  2. The University may reasonably regulate the time, place and manner of expression in accordance with the Booking and Use of University Space Policy.
  3. The Policy Owner or delegate, in consultation with General Counsel and/or relevant personnel, will be responsible for decisions that may result in limits on Freedom of Expression under this Policy, including the determination of when expression unduly disrupts or significantly interferes with the functioning of the University.

Limits on the Protest and Challenge of Freedom of Expression

  1. Subject to the limits in section 6, University Members, authorized visitors, and guests are free to criticize and contest any view expressed in University Space or the Online University Environment, and to criticize and contest speakers who are invited to express their views in University Space or the Online University Environment, but they may not unduly obstruct or otherwise significantly interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even find abhorrent.
  2. Conduct by students in contravention of this Policy will be subject to investigation and sanctions under the Student Conduct Policy.
  3. The Policy Owner or delegate, in consultation with General Counsel and/or relevant personnel, will be responsible for making determinations regarding when protest and challenge of Freedom of Expression unduly obstructs or otherwise significantly interferes with the freedom of others.

Responsibilities of Student Associations and recognized Student Organizations

  1. Student associations recognized under the Student Associations Accountability Policy are encouraged to adopt a policy that aligns with this Policy.
  2. All recognized student organizations are expected to act in compliance with this Policy, as stated in the Policy on Recognition of Student Organizations.

Complaints

  1. General complaints related to Freedom of Expression in University Space or the Online University Environment under this policy can be submitted to the Office of the Provost for resolution. The Office of the Provost will develop procedures for receiving and resolving complaints, including a form and a means for receiving complaints on its website.
  2. Complaints related to decisions made by the University under this Policy will be addressed pursuant to the Safe Disclosure Policy.
  3. Complaints related to the activities of recognized student organizations will be addressed pursuant to the Policy on Recognition of Student Organizations.
  4. Complaints regarding conduct by Employees in contravention of this Policy will be addressed by the following means:
    1. Harassment, violence or discrimination will be investigated under the Policy Against Harassment, Violence and Discrimination in the Workplace, and in accordance with any applicable collective agreements.
    2. Other violations can be addressed by the procedures for receiving and resolving complaints in section 9.1, in accordance with any applicable collective agreements.

Monitoring and review

This Policy will be reviewed as necessary and at least every three years. An initial review will be conducted within the first year of implementation. The Policy Advisory Committee, or successor thereof, is responsible to monitor and review this Policy.

Relevant legislation

Ontario Human Rights Code

Related policies, procedures & documents

LCG 1111 Student Conduct Policy
LCG 1123 Intellectual Property Policy
LCG 1110 Policy on Recognition of Student Organizations
LCG 1117 Student Association Accountability Policy
LCG 1119 Safe Disclosure Policy
LCG 1119.1 Safe Disclosure Procedure
LCG 1105 Harassment and Discrimination Policy
LCG 1137 Policy Against Violence, Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace
LCG 1137.1 Procedures to Prevent and Address Violence, Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace