|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) has an Academic Freedom Policy which states:
Institutions of higher learning serve the common good of society and are dedicated to the pursuit and dissemination of truth, knowledge, and understanding through fostering independent thinking and expression. These ends cannot be achieved without academic freedom.
Academic freedom includes the right of all members of the BCIT community to inquire, discuss, and express themselves, study, conduct research, teach, publish, create and exhibit their work, associate, and peaceably assemble without deference to prescribed doctrine on ideas, principles, concepts, or issues related to pedagogy and research.
BCIT believes that the exchange of knowledge and ideas in an environment of academic freedom is an indispensable foundation of quality education, research, and scholarship. Academic freedom extends to the entire BCIT community.
The Academic Freedom Policy defines academic freedom as follows:
Academic freedom includes, but is not limited to:
- Freedom to Teach A member of the BCIT community has:
- The entitlement to freedom in the classroom in discussing the curriculum
- The right to introduce any topic or viewpoint related to the curriculum or to the education of students in the subject
- The individual right and responsibility to determine course content and textbooks subject to BCIT policy
- The right and responsibility to present subject matter, regardless of how controversial, in such a way as to encourage free discussion, inquiry and expression
- Freedom to Learn and Conduct Research A member of the BCIT community has the right to full freedom in the pursuit of knowledge through research interests and in the publication of the results, subject only to the satisfactory performance of other academic duties.
- Freedom to Engage in Professional Service and Outreach All members of the BCIT community have the freedom to pursue and participate in internal and external Institutional and professional service and outreach. Institutional service includes administrative duties, committee work, and student advising. Professional service refers to work done in support of one's academic discipline, and involves such activities as serving on committees and boards of professional organizations, organizing or chairing sessions at national or international meetings, editing or reading manuscripts for professional journals, or participating in on‐site program evaluations.
- Freedom to Act as a Private Citizen All members of the BCIT community are private citizens, and are entitled to speak or write as private citizens without Institutional censorship or discipline. However, they should make every reasonable effort to ensure that when they are expressing personal views, they are not seen as spokespersons or representatives of BCIT.
- Freedom to Read BCIT employees responsible for the development of written, visual, and machine readable resources for the academic community have the right to select materials on the basis of their value as information and entertainment sources, being careful to present a diversity of opinion. No library materials may be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval. In no case may materials be excluded because of the sexual orientation, gender, age, family status, race, heritage, or nationality or the social, political, or religious views of the author.
Under “Duties and Responsibilities,” the Academic Freedom Policy states:
All members of the BCIT community are expected to support and protect the fundamental principle of academic freedom and contribute to an environment of tolerance and mutual respect through the use of respectful communication that values both dignity of others and difference of opinion.
Academic freedom does not obviate the responsibility to respect BCIT policies, local and federal laws, or human rights and freedoms. Hence, academic freedom does not entitle anyone to promote hatred or contempt for any social, national, or ethnic group, to display incompetence in teaching or scholarship, or to violate the rights of others.
BCIT’s Student Code of Conduct (“Code”) states in its preamble:
BCIT is committed to the overall educational, personal and professional development of its students, and to the safety of its students, employees and visitors. It is equally committed to providing an environment which fosters learning and supports respect, diversity, human rights, and the integrity of academic pursuits.
The Institute has established certain standards of behaviour and related administrative
procedures to achieve these goals. These behavioural standards are based on the expectation that all persons will conduct themselves as members of a community of mature and mutually respectful individuals.
All individual members of the BCIT community are required to behave responsibly, to respect the rights of others at all times and to treat them with dignity and civility.
In addition, all individuals are expected to abide by all laws and legislation and to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with these ideals.
The Code prohibits “…verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion, and/or other conduct which threatens or endangers the health, security or safety of any person.” The Code further prohibits disruptive activities:
- Disruption or obstruction of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary proceedings, other BCIT activities, including all functions on or off campus, or of other authorized non‐BCIT activities when the conduct occurs on BCIT premises.
- Participating in a disorderly on‐campus or off‐campus demonstration, riot or activity that disrupts the normal operations of BCIT and/or infringes on the rights of other members of the BCIT community; leading or inciting others to disrupt scheduled and/or normal activities within any campus building or area.
- Unreasonable obstruction of the free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic on BCIT premises or at BCIT sponsored or supervised functions.
- Conduct that is disorderly, lewd, or indecent; conduct that violates the privacy of other persons; breach of peace; or aiding, abetting, or procuring another person to breach the peace on BCIT premises or at functions sponsored by, or participated in by, BCIT or members of the academic community.
BCIT’s Response to Abusive or Threatening Behaviour policy defines abusive/threatening behaviour as follows:
Abusive or threatening behaviour is any action that causes a person to be concerned about the actual or potential risk of violence associated with the comments or conduct of another person. It includes any threatening statement or behaviour that gives a person reasonable cause to believe he or she is at risk of injury.
BCIT’s Advertising Policy states:
BCIT has no policies governing fees for controversial events. However, the Safety and Security policy permits security personnel to conduct “risk assessments” and undertake “preventative measures” to protect property and equipment.
The authors found no cases of the university censoring students, faculty or invited guests on campus. However, the university failed to speak out against interference by its Student Association with editorial decisions of the campus publication, LINK Magazine, about coverage of a criminal incident on campus.
The British Columbia Institute of Technology Student Association (BCITSA) does not mention protections for free expression in its mission, vision or values statements.
BCITSA’s Club Funding Policy states that “BCITSA will not fund religious or political clubs/events.” It further states, “BCITSA does not support, promote, or fund activities that are discriminatory as defined by the Canadian and International Human Rights laws.”
The Marketing and Communication Policy states:
1.1 (d) BCITSA may refuse, acting reasonably, advertising that infer subjective moral values, as those values may not be consistent in whole or in part with those of the members of BCITSA.
1.1 (e) Advertising may not be discriminatory against any person(s) on the basis of age, marital status, race, religion, gender, ability, or sexual orientation.
This policy further states:
4.1 BCITSA represents all BCIT students and as such retains the right to not consider a sponsorship agreement that is inconsistent with our associational mandate or marginalizes in whole or in part the membership of BCITSA.
BCITSA will not enter into a sponsorship agreement with or post materials for:
(a) Religious associations/agencies
(b) Political associations/agencies
(c) Companies affiliated with the aforementioned associations/agencies
(d) Companies that promote or condone illegal activities and/or services
Bylaw 11 governs elections, and restricts campaign materials:
(b) The use of lewd, indecent, or suggestive material or the defamation of campaign materials, irrespective of the form they may take is prohibited. A candidate using such materials or acting in such a manner shall be disqualified upon the decision of the Election Committee.
(c) Campaign materials shall only endorse one candidate.
(d) Candidates shall not produce campaign materials similar to those of other candidates in colour, branding, design, or appearance.
(e) Campaign materials shall not bear slogans which are the same or similar to those of other candidates
Bylaw 19 governs clubs, and states:
Student political and religious clubs may be organized under the VPCL to bear the name and to profess the policies of political parties or religious organizations (or comparable organizations) subject to the following regulations:
(a) Such Clubs shall in all respects be subject to the Constitution, Bylaws, and rules of the Association.
(b) Except as specifically provided by resolution of the Council, such Clubs shall not receive funds from any outside organizations without approval of Council.
(c) The Association in no way will provide financial assistance for the political or religious Clubs, or be liable in any way for the action of such clubs.
(d) Violation of any of the aforesaid regulations shall render the clubs concerned liable for suspension.
- Other than designed political clubs, no organization in the Association shall become or allow it to become an instrument in partisan politics.
a.Any such deemed by the Council to be or to have been improperly acting in interests of a political party (or comparable organization) shall be liable for suspension of its charter. The Council may restore such charter only if and when the Council is satisfied that the organization concerned will service the purposes and only the purposes for which it was organized.
BCITSA does not advocate on positions outside of its mandate.
In February of 2016, it was reported by media that a student at BCIT was charged with voyeurism in November 2015 for having recorded videos of people in the men’s restrooms, and that the university had not informed students after the charges were laid.
Following the revelations, BCITSA publications manager Dan Post advised staff at the campus publication “Link Magazine” to promote other “positive” stories when they ran coverage of this incident:
You probably received this email below from the SA, since you’re all employees of the SA. I just wanted to add, that if you are approached about this, or plan on reporting about this for BCIT mag or Evolution, or what have you, I would also suggest that you take this opportunity to promote all the positive BCIT student stories coming out of this campus and LINK magazine. Show them all the GREAT students that we spotlight in our magazine and on our website, and brag about the positive things happening in our pages. If they’re looking for a juicy student story from BCIT for their homepages, point them towards our Student Spotlights, or our thoughtful and amazing contributors. It’s a good way to turn a negative (kind of non-news story) into a positive thing while we have the attention of the world-at-large, even if just for a moment.
Dan Post | Publications Manager
BCIT Student Association
Post explained to media why he sent the email:
We do a lot of great work and a lot of awesome stories that I don’t think get picked up as often as they should. And if people are paying attention to BCIT at any time in large masses, we should always use the opportunity to promote the great stories, and reach a larger audience with the positive and student spotlight stories that we tend to do for the magazine
…just because it is a negative kind of story, and we tend to do tons of positive stories. That’s kind of my personal opinion, and not really up for debate on whether or not it’s a news story
Following this email, two journalists working at Link Magazine released the email to the campus radio station. They were subsequently suspended from their positions at the publication.