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Academic Freedom

Academic freedom is the right of post-secondary academic staff, without restriction by prescribed doctrine, to use their best professional judgment in their teaching and research; to be able to disseminate the results of their research and scholarship; to acquire, preserve, and provide access to documentary material in all formats; to express their opinions about the institution in which they work; and to exercise their rights as citizens without institutional sanction or censorship.

News January 27, 2018

Sheldon Levy: Why I defended freedom of speech on campus

Toronto Star / January 26 – Writing in the Toronto Star, Sheldon Levy, past-president of Ryerson University, describes the university president’s challenge in defending freedom of expression on campus and why it is essential for universities and beyond. “On many occasions, I gave my administrator’s green light to events featuring speakers whose ideas I personally loathed,” Levy writes. “And I did so because freedom of speech is a core defining value for any free society. Democracy cannot function without it.”
Blog November 16, 2017

(Free) Speech on Campus

In the general public sphere, expression is subject to relatively few legal restrictions. Canadian law includes ‘content’ restrictions on obscenity, hate speech, defamation, and false advertising. There are also laws that regulate the time or location at which expression may occur and are concerned with coordinating expression with other activities in public spaces.
Blog November 9, 2017

University Speech Codes and the Wounds of White Fragility

(Co-written with Anver Emon, Professor of Law, University of Toronto) Everyone can get hurt. We are complex beings, with multiple attachments, and so we naturally are offended by insults, degrading comments, and uncivil speech. If such wounds hurt, should they be the subject of penalty or public censure? For intractable disputes, it is naïve to think that speech codes can serve to dampen, or even resolve, conflict.
Blog October 19, 2017

A Hailstorm of Censorship at UBC

It would be nice to think that free speech in Canada is in surpassingly good health, that it can resist attacks from authoritarians and ideologues, that censorship is unthinkable in all but the rarest of circumstances. It would be still nicer to believe that Canadian universities consistently provide the necessary conditions for free expression and free expression, artistic expression included. Unfortunately none of these beliefs is entirely true to fact.