|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
Lakehead University’s Code of Student Behaviour and Disciplinary Procedures states:
The University encourages the free exchange of ideas and opinions, but insists that the free expression of views must be made with respect for the human dignity and freedom of others.
Students and their organizations shall conduct their activities in a manner compatible with the commitment of the University to maintain an intellectual and cultural environment conducive to personal development and critical awareness, and in compliance with the laws of Canada and Ontario, and University policies and regulations. Action taken under this Code does not preclude the University from notifying the appropriate authorities and initiating other actions in accordance with the laws of Ontario and/or Canada. This Code shall not be construed to prohibit peaceful assemblies, demonstrations, or free speech.
The Code also provides an anti-disruption policy, prohibiting as Misconduct “interference, obstruction or disruption of teaching, field and/or community placements, practicums, research, administration, disciplinary proceedings, or other University activities, including public service functions, and other authorized activities.”
Lakehead University’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Procedures (HDPP) lists types of behaviour which may constitute harassment, including “offensive materials”. The inclusion of ‘offensive materials’ as harassment empowers the University to censor students and student groups trying to spread their message on campus. A student group which creates a display on a controversial topic may find their presentation banned by University officials because someone finds the material “offensive”.
The HDPP establishes a Discrimination and Harassment Coordinator “who will coordinate educational initiatives and the complaint services related to this policy for the University community.”
Lakehead University has no policies which expliciltly empower university officials to charge fees for security at events discussing controversial subject matter.
The authors are not aware of cases of the University limiting or restricting campus free speech rights, or discriminating against students or clubs on the basis of their opinion. However, the University has failed to condemn the actions of its student union when it censored speech and enforced speech codes in the past (see sections 3 and 4 of this report).
In 2008, the Lakehead University Student Union (LUSU) declared itself to be officially pro-choice, and further declared that those who think differently must keep their speech and actions in accordance with the Student Union’s stance on the subject, as per the following resolution:
Be it resolved that the Lakehead University Student Union declare itself to be a pro-choice organization, where pro-choice is the recognition that every woman has the right to security of their own person and self-determination in all realms of life, especially when addressing reproductive rights held by women.
The preceding statement shall not be construed to imply that LUSU is opposed to those who hold pro-life positions so long as these groups do not advocate, encourage, support, condone the denial of choice to any other women and also long [sic] as these groups do not in any way promote feelings of guilt, criminality, worthlessness, or shame.
Be it further resolved that the Lakehead University Student Union withhold any and all funds, space, resources and services within its control from any groups, either on or off campus, and regardless of membership composition (student or non- student) if that groups holds any aim, principle, belief, goal, etc. That is [anti-choice] in nature, explicit or implicit.
We were willing to grant the club status if the club agrees to acknowledge that pro-life is not the only choice, but a choice that a women can make, that abortion is a legitimate legal alternative to adoption or keeping a child. All literature from the group must be in a positive nature vs. Anti-choice, and have a logo so that we can clearly identify their material.
In 2008 then-LUSU President Richard Longtin issued a “presidential decree” which required clubs to ensure that their messages were ‘positive’ before being given club status. Mr. Longtin, also a member of the Campus Conservative club, was accused of trying to silence criticisms that the Conservative federal government was receiving on campus for choosing to prorogue Parliament in the winter of 2008. Any LUSU election campaigns were also regulated in the decree:
Campaigns must be positive in nature and cannot slander the opposing stance of the campaign. All club publications shall not have content that may be deemed as offensive or in bad taste to any identifiable group. Members of the club are not allowed to impose belief(s) or practice(s) of the club to anyone who does not give them consent to outside of the club’s meetings.
For some time thereafter, members of clubs with a “controversial topic” were told orally that no club member could approach any student with material, or to entice them to join. It appears no efforts have been made to ensure that the decree is actually enforced.
LUSU clubs must abide by the Clubs Handbook, which is different for the Thunder Bay and Orillia campuses. In Thunder Bay, clubs are required to abide by the University’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy, which is discussed in Section 1 of this report. Orillia’s Clubs Handbook reminds students that all activity within LUSU is governed by the Code of Student Behaviour and Disciplinary Procedures, and the HDPP, also referenced in Section 1.
The Clubs Handbook makes clear that clubs may exclude from membership those who do not share their political ideology, religious views or area of study.
LUSU excludes all political clubs from receiving funding.
In 2008, LUSU told the campus pro-life club (Lakehead University Life Support) that it could only exist by refraining from advocating its stance on abortion, and by not approaching any students to share the club’s viewpoint. This meant that no displays of any sort, even non-controversial and non-offensive posters, could be used to promote the club or its viewpoint. When Life Support refused these conditions as unreasonable, LUSU then stripped the club of its status. LUSU sent a letter to members of the Life Support Executive, stating reasons for the type of restrictions that they would have to abide by in order to be ratified, given the “offensive nature” of their message.
By-law #1 places limits on campaign speech by restricting campaign expenses to $300 per candidate. It further requires the Chief Operating Officer to approve campaign materials, but does not state the criteria by which the Officer may approve or deny materials.
In January of 2011, Life Support was granted official club status, but was forced to register under “Official Club Status Without Funding” in spite of the fact that this club is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, any religion or political party. LUSU also ordered the club to forego placing posters around campus that have any images, but LUSU did not interfere with Life Support’s booking of meeting space, event space, etc.