Policy on the Freedom of Speech (Freedom of Expression)
Office of Administration: Office of the President and Vice-Chancellor
Approval Authority: Board of Governors
Approval Date: December 14, 2018
Next Review: June 2019
- Laurentian University’s objects and purposes are the advancement of learning, the dissemination of knowledge and intellectual, social, moral and physical development for the betterment of society. These objects and purposes were incorporated in the University’s vision and mandate of offering an outstanding university experience in English and French with a comprehensive approach to Indigenous education that prepares students as agents of change by stimulating them to ask new questions, to challenge what we know, and empower them to create innovative solutions for future local and global issues.
- Inherent in these objects, purposes, vision and mission is the fundamental importance of the free exchange and expression of ideas, knowledge, perspectives and views in order to achieve the University’s goals and ends. This means that open discussion and free inquiry are core to the university’s identity.
- This Policy applies to all employees, students, contractors, volunteers, and visitors to the Laurentian University workplace and learning environment.
- For the purpose of this Policy, the Laurentian University workplace and learning environment includes all locations where Laurentian University business occurs, including but not limited to, teaching, learning, research and administration.
- Laurentian University’s commitment to, and definition of, freedom of expression includes the free exchange and expression of ideas, knowledge, perspectives and views which is fundamental to the advancement of learning and the dissemination of knowledge. The concept of free speech is part of Laurentian University’s definition of Freedom of Expression.
- At Laurentian University, the free exchange and expression of ideas, knowledge, perspectives and views is included in but not limited to various university documents. For example, academic freedom is defined as the right to search for truth, knowledge and understanding and to express freely what one believes. The University as an institution and the community of its scholars have a duty to protect and defend the search for knowledge and truth by all that enquire. This includes contributing to social change through free expression on matters of public interest, without being censored, impeded or hindered.
- A free exchange and expression of ideas, knowledge, perspectives and views will inevitably expose community members and visitors to opinions and ideas that they may disagree with or find challenging and offensive.
- Exposure to disagreeable and challenging views or opinions can be expected in promoting and supporting the free expression of ideas, knowledge, perspectives and views. Laurentian University remains committed to maintaining a respectful workplace and learning environment that prohibits all forms of discrimination and harassment. It is the responsibility of our community members and visitors to foster a free exchange of ideas including a discussion of differing views and to avoid discrimination. As well, members of the university community and visitors have the responsibility to uphold each individual’s right to participate, learn and work in an environment that promotes equal opportunities.
- Laurentian University’s existing policies as well as existing collective agreements may be applied where conduct is found to have significantly interfered with the ability of an event or activity involving free expression to proceed. Student associations are encouraged to integrate Laurentian University’s policies into their own.
- While recognizing and respecting every individual’s right to freedom of expression, Laurentian University has an obligation to manage a University related event or activity where it is reasonably believed there is a risk of injury or that it may violate applicable law.