Free speech on campus: an in-depth look

The topic of free speech on university campuses continues to provoke debate and criticism in the wake of recent on-campus incidents.  One incident saw Carleton University President Roseann Runte coming under scrutiny in January, after an email titled “A Reflection for 2017” was sent out to students to promote the principle of free speech. The email was sent following various protests on campus in the fall semester. The email appeared to call campus protesters “noisy persons” who “fail to recognize [that] by preventing their duly-elected representatives to carry out their mandate, they themselves are contravening the basic principle of a civil society.” Samiha Rayeda, the volunteer, outreach, and programming coordinator for Carleton’s Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), said the term […]

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Letter: Peterson protests violate free speech

On March 9, the National Gallery of Canada is holding a public seminar on the psychology of creativity. Protests have erupted against keynote speaker Jordan Peterson, not for any particularly controversial view on creativity, but rather for his views about political correctness. Peterson is a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, who has objected to the enforcement of gender-neutral and other politically correct language in academia. Protesters, organizing on Facebook and other social media, have claimed his alleged transphobia and bigotry are grounds enough for his removal as a public speaker. The attempt to deny Peterson his right to speak, aside from proving his point, shifts the conversation from one about political correctness and the use of preferred language […]

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Letter: Freedom of speech belongs on university campuses

RE: CUSA’s free speech ranking rises to an A, Nov. 5-11. The Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) recently received an A grade for its protection of free speech on campus. In light of the high grade, the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) president Michael Bueckert accused CUSA of not doing enough to create “safe spaces” on campus. To the contrary, it is CUSA’s responsibility to provide a forum for free speech on campus. CUSA and the university do not exist to protect students’ feelings, and hurt feelings cannot be used to justify censorship. CUSA has the impossible task of defending free speech and simultaneously not allowing any speech that infringes on safe space. Students must learn independently to express themselves without […]

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Editorial: Good grades in free speech aren’t necessarily a win

The 2015 Campus Freedom Index was recently published by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), and the Carleton University Students’ Association’s (CUSA) grade climbed from a B to an A. The JCCF’s reasoning behind raising CUSA’s grade is that a motion was passed during council last year that supports freedom of expression. The JCCF also said CUSA is one of the best unions in Canada when it comes to freedom of speech. This grade means very little. The JCCF only assesses one side of the free speech argument while ignoring safe space policies and why they are in place. Campuses are meant to be a hub of freedom of expression and open intellectual dialogue about contentious issues, but at […]

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Editorial: White students unions don’t belong on campuses

Last week, three Toronto universities found and removed posters from campus message boards. The posters advertised a “Students for Western Civilization” union and billed itself as a “white students union.” What should go without saying now bears repeating: These groups have absolutely no place on a university campus. Universities are often held up as beacons of free speech and thought. You’d be hard-pressed to find a news outlet lately that hasn’t published a half-baked opinion piece about the death of free speech. Whatever the state of free speech in Canada, these posters cross the line. Organizations such as those advertised are completely inappropriate, and are an assault on the safety of people of colour on campus. To suggest otherwise is […]

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