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The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca) brings you the 2018 Campus Freedom Index, measuring the state of free speech at 60 Canadian public universities.
First published in 2011, the annual Campus Freedom Index provides students, parents, politicians, university administrators, and the public with data about the state of free speech on 60 Canadian public universities.
The Campus Freedom Index grading methodology is found here. Each university receives four letter grades: one for each of university policies, university practices, student union policies, and student union practices. Using a five-tier letter scale—A, B, C, D and F—the Campus Freedom Index grades universities and student unions on their stated policies (what they say) and their practices (what they do).
With 240 grades assigned to 60 universities and student unions, Canada’s universities earned 5 A grades and 34 F grades. There are 13 universities which earned an ‘F’ grade for policies or practices, and 21 ‘F’ grades were earned by student unions. The total number of ‘F’ grades decreased from 2017 to 2018 by two, but is still higher than the 32 ‘F’ grades earned in 2016. The number of ‘A’ grades also decreased by two, from 2017 to 2018.
The Campus Freedom Index reports that seven universities joined the “Flunk List” in 2018. Acadia University, Dalhousie University, Saint Paul University, University of Guelph, University of Waterloo, University of Victoria and Wilfrid Laurier University earned new “F” grades in 2018 for failing to protect free expression on campus:
- Acadia University earns an ‘F’ for its decision to investigate and then fire tenured professor Rick Mehta, for controversial remarks he had made in class and on social media.
- Dalhousie University earns an ‘F’ for its decision to launch an investigation against undergraduate student Masuma Khan, over remarks she made on social media that offended some readers.
- Saint Paul University earns an ‘F’ for its decision to cancel a planned film screening about abortion.
- The University of Guelph earns an ‘F’ for refusing to allow a pro-life student group to hold a tabling event about abortion.
- The University of Victoria earns an ‘F’ for condoning vandalism and disruption of a sanctioned student-organized pro-life event.
- The University of Waterloo earns an ‘F’ for its decision to effectively cancel a scheduled lecture on campus, organized by Lindsay Shepherd’s Laurier Society for Open Inquiry, by charging the group $28,500 in security fees in order to proceed with the event.
- Wilfrid Laurier University earns an ‘F’ for its decision to launch an investigation into graduate student and teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd, over her decision to show a clip of a televised debate about gender-neutral pronouns. In a move that would have also independently earned it an “F” grade, Wilfrid Laurier University also decided to charge Ms. Shephard’s student group, Laurier Society for Open Inquiry, $5,473 to cover security costs for a scheduled lecture by Mount Royal University professor Dr. Frances Widdowson.
As in previous years, the Campus Freedom Index reveals both improvements and declines in the grades of individual universities. Fourteen universities improved their grade from 2017 to 2018, whereas 19 universities earned a lower grade in 2018 compared to 2017. Six student unions improved their grade from 2017 to 2018, whereas seven student unions earned a lower grade in 2018 compared to 2017. Overall, the 2018 Campus Freedom Index shows a very small decline in the state of freedom of expression at Canada’s universities, but practically speaking there are no significant differences between 2017 and 2018.
The master chart of grades for each of the 60 universities and student unions surveyed can be found here.
CampusFreedomIndex.ca also enables students, professors and concerned citizens to take action and fight back against campus censorship.