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Michael Kryworuk

Free Speech on Campus Series: University of Western Ontario

One of the most standard and clichéd descriptions of post-secondary educational institutions in Canada are that they are places where individuals are allowed to freely assemble, express and debate ideas in an open forum free from censorship, discrimination and repression. However, some individuals would claim that protections for freedoms of speech are poorly articulated and implemented by many of Canada’s post-secondary institutions. Others argue even further that freedom of speech is an endangered species on Canadian university campuses. Perhaps a more apt representation would be that the state of freedom of speech on campuses could be likened to a zoo animal, one that is proudly put on parade but yet is restricted by their cage.  Universities promote that they are defenders of free speech but yet reserve the rights to restrict freedom of speech through ambiguous, vague and subjective policies when unwarranted controversy or media attention arise.  This is undoubtedly the case for the University of Western Ontario In the Justice Centre of Constitutional Freedoms annual Campus Freedom Index for 2013, University of Western Ontario and its student government (University Students Council – USC) were awarded satisfactory grades for policies that protect the fundamental right to free speech on campus, however both groups received failing grades on the implementation of said policies.[1] What these rankings suggest is that at freedom of speech is not under attack but rather the university and the USC are not vocal defenders of freedom of speech and are willing to restrict free speech when more controversial expressions of free speech might bring unwanted media attention upon the university as a whole. Now Western as a private institution, has a legal right to determine what messages are allowed on campus. The university permits expressions of viewpoints on campus providing that:  such actions: (a) cause no interference with… Read More