|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
GRADE EXPLANATION: The University earns an A for its policies. There is a clearly stated commitment to free speech. The university has an anti-disruption policy which prohibits students (and other people) from blocking, obstructing, disrupting or interrupting speech (e.g. events, displays) on campus. The University does not have any speech code. The university does not provide funding and other resources to groups, departments, committees, commissions or other bodies that engage in ideological advocacy. The University earns an A for its practices. The University recently defended free expression in the face of public backlash over an invited speaker.
Bishop’s University’s Mission Statement states:
We invite our students, who come from Quebec, across Canada, and around the world, to practice the respectful and informed dialogue that sustains democracy, to exercise the rights and responsibilities of good citizenship and to realize their potential for leadership.
Under Values, Bishop’s University states, “We value the academic freedom that is essential to the discovery and transmission of knowledge, the development of critical approaches, and true engagement in learning and discovery.”
In the Statutes of Bishop’s University, Article 1 Section 8, it is stated:
8.0 “Tenure” shall mean permanency of appointment and the right of a faculty member or librarian not to be dismissed except for cause. Such action shall not be taken in violation of normal academic freedom. Academic freedom for faculty members shall include the right to be appointed regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or politics. It also includes the right to teach, investigate, speculate and publish without deference to prescribed doctrine. It includes the right to criticize the University in a non-violent and lawful way.
8.1 Academic Freedom for Students. Students shall also enjoy academic freedom, which is defined as follows: 8.1.1 The right of the student not to be expelled without cause, or failed for other than academic reasons. 8.1.2 The right of enrolment in courses regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or politics. 8.1.3 The right to criticize the University in a non-violent and lawful way without fear of expulsion or failure.
Article 4 of Bishop’s Charter of Students Rights and Responsibilities states:
Students enjoy freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly within our University Community, provided these are exercised in a civil, respectful manner. This includes the right for any group to debate any matter and to engage in lawful demonstrations. Students have the right to organize, publicize, belong to, or participate in any lawful association, and shall not be subject to prejudice by the University because of their membership in such groups.
Article 1 of the Charter, “General Rights and Responsibilities,” states:
Every student has an equal right to be treated equitably and with dignity and respect. This right must not be impaired by discrimination based on race, colour, ethnic or national origin, civil status, religion, creed, political convictions, sex, gender, sexual orientation, social condition, age, or personal handicap. It is understood that a distinction, exclusion or preference based on relevant academic or physical aptitudes or qualifications does not constitute discrimination. Every student has the same responsibility to treat every other member of our University Community equally, without discrimination, in a civil and respectful manner that neither demeans nor degrades the other person. This applies to all person-to-person contact as well as to references made in writing or via any electronic medium that is intended to become public, or ought reasonably to be expected to become public (such as social networking websites).
Article 1 further states:
Students, while they are members of the Bishop's community, enjoy all of the fundamental rights and freedoms as recognized in the laws of the Province of Quebec and in the federal statutes of Canada. The University is not a refuge and students are subject to the laws of the land like any other citizen.
Article 3 of the Charter states:
Every member of our University Community has the right to be free from vexatious conduct, from verbal, physical, or psychological abuse or intimidation, and from sexual or any other form of harassment… Students have the responsibility to refrain from behaviour that obstructs teaching, learning, or any class or function, and the responsibility to refrain from malicious, vexatious or abusive conduct, and acts of intimidation, harassment, or assault.
Article 4 of the Code of Student Conduct, “Rules of Conduct and Offences,” states “Nothing in this Code is intended to prohibit student academic freedom, peaceful assemblies, demonstrations, lawful picketing, or to inhibit free speech.”
The university does not provide funding or other resources to departments, committees, commissions or other bodies that engage in ideological advocacy.
Bishop’s University hosts an annual on-campus lecture series, “The Donald Lecture Series,” which it describes as follows:
Made possible by the generous support of Bishop’s alumnus John Donald ’60, DCL ’12, the Donald Lecture Series brings speakers of national and international renown to the Bishop’s campus to provide insight, provoke thought, and stimulate debate on the most compelling issues and events in the world today. All lectures are free of charge and open to the public.
Toronto-based criminal lawyer Marie Henein was invited to speak on February 10, 2017 as part of the 2016-2017 lecture series. The invitation drew criticism from students and women’s groups across the country, who opposed Henein’s “aggressive treatment of women” during her legal representation of former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi, who was accused of sexual assault. Ghomeshi was found not guilty in this high-profile case.
In response to demands to cancel Ms. Henein’s speech, Bishop’s University principal Michael Goldbloom penned an op-ed defending the University’s decision:
Recently there have been news stories questioning Bishop’s University’s decision to invite Marie Henein to speak on our campus next February.
Henein is a criminal defence lawyer who has defended numerous types of cases including acting on behalf of former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi in his sexual assault trial.
Bishop’s, along with Acadia, Mount Allison and St. Francis Xavier, is one of the members of the Maple League of Universities, and there is a possibility that Ms Henein’s talk will be live-streamed to one or more of the other campuses.
A student at one of those universities has received national coverage for her assertion that Henein’s talk should be cancelled because it will serve to silence victims and to perpetuate rape culture.
The executive director of the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre said that by inviting Henein we “are potentially retraumatizing students … who have experienced sexual violence.”
The issue of sexual violence on university campuses and in society at large is a very serious one. At Bishop’s, as at many other universities, we have implemented initiatives to educate our community, to reduce the incidence of sexual assault and to support victims.
We have given extensive consideration about how best to support people who assert that they have been sexually assaulted while respecting the rights of the accused.
One of the critical challenges facing our criminal justice system is how best to reconcile our desire to protect victims of sexual assault so that they are not victimized again in the judicial process while preserving the presumption of innocence and requiring the state to make its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
How our criminal justice system deals with sexual assault cases is a difficult issue. And it is important that our universities be places where difficult issues can be discussed in an intelligent, informed and respectful way.
We should not shy away from confronting tough questions.
One of the reasons that we so fiercely defend academic freedom is because we believe that a university must be a place where controversial ideas can be debated.
Henein is one of Canada’s preeminent defence attorneys. As is evident from an article that she wrote after Hillary Clinton’s electoral defeat, she is also a strong advocate for the advancement of girls and women.
If any of our students see a contradiction in that, I hope that they will come to her lecture and ask her about it.
A Bishop’s grad wrote me Thursday: “My years at Bishop’s taught me many invaluable lessons, including critical analysis and open-mindedness. Bishop’s gave me the courage to speak my own truth even when it went against the grain of popular thinking.
“Ms. Henein’s ability to reach the very pinnacle of a highly competitive profession as an immigrant, a woman and a working mother is extremely inspirational and she is known to share her wisdom as a mentor and colleague.”
No one is required to be at her lecture, but whether their views are reinforced or changed, I am confident that everyone who attends will learn something.
We look forward to welcoming her on our campus.
Ms. Henein’s speech proceeded as planned.
GRADE EXPLANATION: The student union earns a D for its policies. The student union does not have an express commitment to free speech on campus; the student union has at least one speech code; the student union’s policies in regard to club certification enable unequal treatment of clubs based on beliefs and opinions; the student union’s rules and regulations for elections and referenda impose unfair restrictions on campaign speech and literature; the student union does not take political positions on issues outside its mandate. The student union earns a C for its practices for having not recently censored free speech on campus.
The Constitution of the Bishop’s University Students’ Representative Council (SRC) outlines the Students’ Representative Council’s purpose as follows:
1.01, iii. To safeguard the rights of the individual members of the SA, as given in the Bishop’s University Charter of Student Rights and Responsibilities and as given in the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Human Rights and Freedoms.
1.02: The SRC shall not recognize any club or organization in violation of the Bishop’s University Charter of Students Rights and Freedoms or the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Human Rights and Freedoms.
1.03: The SRC may adopt a position on any issue that directly affects the well-being of the SA.
1.04: The SRC reserves the right to refuse any external funding which would jeopardize the ability of the SRC – including all clubs and constituents – to express a viewpoint or opinion counter to the donor.
The Constitution’s “Club Bylaws and Regulations”, states:
2.01: ii. i. Club membership is open to all students in good standing with the SRC. Exceptions being academic clubs which may limit membership to those majors and minors in the club’s respective program; or athletic clubs which may limit membership based on sex for the purpose of fair and equal competition.
iii. No club is permitted to discriminate against membership.
3.01 Criteria: i. Any individual or group wishing to advertise or place posters in the Student Union Building and in all academic buildings must conform to the following policy. All posters/advertisements must be tasteful and inoffensive. Any poster/advertisement that violates this policy will be removed and discarded. Failure to comply with any of the criteria will result in immediate loss of poster privileges.
The SRC’s Student Content Policy states:
4.01 ii. Fifty One Percent (51%) of all material published on the SRC plasma screen must be student based content
iii. All student-based content must also adhere to the Student Code of Conduct iv. Any student in good standing at Bishop’s University who takes issue with plasma screen content may ask that content be removed. The process for removal is as follows:
Article XXII.1: Electoral Policies regulates expression during elections for SRC offices and representatives as follows:
The SRC does not take positions on political issues outside its mandate.
The authors are not aware of the Student Representatives Council (SRC) discriminating against a campus group or club based on its views or opinions.