|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
In the Mission of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the University describes its commitment to academic freedom, stating the University “[respects] the academic freedom of learners, faculty, and staff as foundational to the pursuit of knowledge.”
Kwantlen Polytechnic University is committed to the belief that the exchange of knowledge and ideas in an environment of intellectual freedom is an indispensable foundation of quality education and scholarship.
- Academic freedom is one means to ensure that an environment of intellectual freedom is sustained, and extends to the entire University community: students, staff, faculty (including visiting faculty), and University officers and administrators;
- Academic freedom includes the right of all members of the University 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; and without hindrance by the University, any of its representatives, or coercion by external agents.
The censorship of information is inimical to the free pursuit of knowledge. Therefore, no censorship based on moral, religious or political values shall be permitted against any communication or informational material, including collections in the University libraries.
The document, Student Rights and Responsibilities, states:
Students have the right to free inquiry, expression, belief, political association and assembly, provided they do not interfere with the rights of others, with the effective operation of the University or violate other University policies and procedures.
The Student Conduct Policy prohibits “conduct disruptive to the teaching/learning process.”
Kwantlen passed a new Inclusiveness and Diversity Policy in January 2016 which states that it seeks to create an environment on campus that:
is free from intimidation, harassment, favoritism and discrimination;
expands opportunities to safely express opinions and converse on issues of diversity at all levels of the university; and
Kwantlen’s Human Rights Policy contains a statement excluding the Policy from interfering with academic freedom:
This Policy will not be interpreted, administered, or applied to infringe on the academic freedom of students or employees. The frank discussion of controversial ideas, the pursuit and publication of controversial research, and the study and teaching of material with controversial content do not constitute harassment or discrimination, provided that such activities are conducted in a respectful and non-coercive manner.
In 2012, Kwantlen Polytechnic University failed to condemn the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) when that body chose to deny club status to a pro-life campus group (see section 4 below).
On July 28, 2010, Kwantlen student Emery Warner was escorted off campus by four security personnel. Warner was distributing pamphlets to protest Kwantlen’s then-new catering company, Sodexo.
Kwantlen’s VP for Student Affairs, Jody Gordon, stated that she was worried the pamphlets would have a negative impact on one of the campus cafés which was mentioned in the flyer.
The Runner, Kwantlen’s campus press, reported on this July 28 incident:
Security first approached Warner with Bill Keith and Bassanio Tsang from Sodexo who briefly questioned him about the flyer and asked if they could sit down and talk about the merits of Sodexo. Warner says he stated that he wasn’t interested in negotiating with them and took off to class to write an exam.
After his exam Warner says that security was waiting for him and soon after he was met outside by Gordon. According to Warner, Gordon demanded to see his student ID, which he refused to do.
According to section C.21 under Kwantlen’s student code of conduct, if a student refuses to comply with the reasonable directions of staff and faculty they can be kicked off campus. Refusing to show ID falls under refusing to comply and gave grounds for security to escort Warner off campus.
But before he was kicked off campus, Warner said that Gordon threatened to punish him. “She said that we’re going to look at disciplinary action within the institution,” says Warner. “She also hinted to taking legal action against me saying that the flyer had been passed on to Sodexo’s legal team.”
The next day, Warner continued to distribute pamphlets while campus security followed behind him, taking the pamphlets from students after Warner had distributed them.
VP Student Affairs Gordon told the Runner that after reviewing the security report, no punitive measures would be taken against Warner.
The Kwantlen Students Association (KSA) does not reference free expression or academic freedom in its mission statement. The KSA takes official stances on abortion, coal exports, Childcare and the Minimum Wage, Cosmetic Pesticide Use, Idle No More, the environment, LGBT issues, medical marijuana and safer sex.
Section XI of the Regulations of the Kwantlen Students Association (Regulations) governing elections mandates the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) to “review and approve all campaign material prior to its use, posting, or distribution” without giving any criteria on which to approve or deny materials. Article 9(1)(ix) of Section XI states that “during an election or referendum, the Chief Returning Officer or her designate may make rulings and interpretations.”
Section XIII, Article 4(1) of the Regulations states that “[e]xcept as otherwise required by this Regulation, the governance of each Recognized Student Group shall be determined by its members.” Article 4(7) states, “[e]very Member in good standing of the Society is eligible for and entitled to membership and participation in the activities of every Recognized Student Group.”
Section XIV, Article 2(d) states that, “[t]he Clubs and Events Coordinator shall reject any [event] planning tool: [sic] which, in the opinion of the Clubs and Events Coordinator, proposes an event which is frivolous, unreasonable, dangerous, or otherwise prudent for the KSA to reject.”
The KSA’s Abortion and Woman’s Right to Choose Policy states “that while any society is free to hold particular beliefs, the Student’s Association, as an organization, should actively support a woman’s right to choose…any material displayed in the Association spaces should adhere to the principle of ‘safe space’ … to ensure an accessible environment in which every student feels comfortable, safe and able to get involved in all aspects of the organisation free from intimidation or judgement”.
On October 12, 2012, first-year student Oliver Capko applied to have his student group, Protectores Vitae (Protectors of Life), officially ratified by the KSA. After approximately one month had passed, the Executive Committee of the KSA responded by denying club recognition to Protectores Vitae because the club’s position on a social and political issue (abortion) differed from the KSA’s position on that issue.
The Justice Centre got involved and wrote a letter to the KSA demanding that it cease its illegal discrimination against Protectores Vitae. The text of that letter is available at www.jccf.ca. In the face of an impending lawsuit by JCCF, the KSA Council on December 6, 2012, reversed its decision and accepted Protectores Vitae as a fully-ratified club.