St. Lawrence College (SLC) will be posting a new policy on free speech that has been endorsed by all of Ontario’s 24 colleges.
“The free exchange of ideas is fundamental to the success of higher education,” said Glenn Vollebregt, SLC President and CEO. “We encourage the effective sharing of knowledge and respect for everyone’s right to express their opinions.”
The policy was developed by a task force of senior college leaders in collaboration with the College Student Alliance, legal experts, and others. It was approved at a recent meeting of Ontario’s college presidents and is to be posted at every college by Jan. 1.
The policy statement is primarily based on the University of Chicago’s Statement on Principles of Free Expression and has five core elements:
· A definition of freedom of speech.
· A commitment to allow open discussion and free inquiry.
· A statement that it is not the colleges’ role to shield members of the college community from ideas they disagree with.
· A statement that while members of the college community are free to contest the views of others, they must also respect the rights of others to express their views.
· An affirmation that speech that violates the law is not allowed.
The policy describes the procedures for handling complaints and ensuring there is compliance. The policy also states that it is aligned with other college policies and they shall all be considered together. Once it takes effect on Jan. 1, it will apply to the entire college community.
“Our graduates enter the workforce with the professional judgment that employers value,” Vollebregt said. “This new policy helps ensure our graduates are creative thinkers who have the expertise to land rewarding careers in the new economy.”