|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 F for its practices. The university suspended one of its professors and filed a human rights complaint against him, for commentary he had made about the Holocaust.
The Mandate Statement of the University of Lethbridge includes the following:
Programs of research, scholarship, and creative activity include the study of fundamental issues for their intrinsic intellectual, aesthetic, or philosophical interest, and of practical challenges of direct importance for social, cultural, economic, or environmental well-being. The University of Lethbridge protects free inquiry and scholarship, facilitates access to scholarly resources, and supports artistic expression and the free and open scholarly discussion of issues.
Under “Why We Exist,” the Mandate Statement states that the University of Lethbridge will “encourage and nurture creative expression.”
One of the “Fundamental Principles” of the University is to “protect and encourage free inquiry and expression”:
In keeping with the unique mandate of the university in society, the University of Lethbridge supports and protects artistic expression and the free and open scholarly discussion of issues, including those that are controversial. In the tradition of academic freedom, the University models collegial and civil debate, dissent, and controversy to critically explore and resolve issues in an atmosphere of professionalism, respect, and good will. We also have an obligation to address long-term issues and those of broad scope.
Section B.5, University of Lethbridge Principles of Student Citizenship states “students respect and uphold the rights and freedoms of all members of the University of Lethbridge community, in accord with the principles articulated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
The Student Discipline Policy – Non-Academic Offences includes protection against disruption:
It also states that “[any] other conduct by a student which adversely affects the safety of the University Community and/or its members will be considered a non-academic offence.”
The University’s Personal Security Policy states that it is “in addition to and not in replacement of the rights an individual may have under law or contract.” It states under “Policy Principles”:
The University recognizes the need to protect freedom of expression in the academic context. Nothing in this policy can be used to limit academic freedom, which is generally understood as the right of academic staff to teach and conduct research (as outlined in Article 11 of the Faculty Handbook) without interference and without jeopardizing their employment. This freedom is central to the university's mission and purpose and is meaningless unless it entails the right to participate in public life, to criticize university or other administrations, to champion unpopular positions, to engage in frank discussion of controversial matters, and to raise deeply disturbing questions and profound challenges to the conventional beliefs of society.
The University of Lethbridge has a Hazing Policy which defines Hazing as follows:
The definition of Hazing includes but is not limited to any action or situation created, whether on or off campus, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, fright and ridicule, including initiations which are abusive and humiliating. Any mental or physical requirement, request or obligation placed upon any person which could cause pain, disgrace, or injury, or which is personally degrading or violates any federal, provincial, local statute or university policy is also considered hazing.
The Student Art Placement Policy states:
The APC will notify the Department of Art of any complaint or concern pertaining to art placement. Upon notification and just cause, the Department of Art shall remedy the art placement including any required removal or take down. The University has the right to immediately remove any placement deemed a safety hazard or that poses imminent danger to life and safety of others, or any other substantive breach.
On October 4, 2016, University of Lethbridge professor Anthony Hall was suspended without pay from his teaching position, which he had held for 26 years, after the University received a complaint regarding comments Hall had made on social media about a "Zionist" connection to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C, and the Holocaust. Following an internal review, the University's board of governors decided to proceed with a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission based on Hall’s statements, saying they could be considered “hateful, contemptuous and discriminatory.”
When ULSU president Brenna Scott told a student to remove a posting he had made because of its sexual nature, campus security reportedly told Scott that she had taken the correct actions.
The University of Lethbridge imposed restrictions on the placement of a display by a pro-life student group due to complaints from students that they were offended by the graphic images on display. In October of 2013, after an authorized Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) display was organized on campus by a registered pro-life club, Lethbridge Students for Life, the University’s President & Vice-Chancellor, Mike Mahon, stated that the University would thereafter "ensure that such activities are conducted in an appropriate space on campus, that people are given a choice as to whether they wish to see the displays and engage in the debate, and that such activities are not unsafe and do not disrupt the normal operations of the University of Lethbridge." During this same GAP display, protesters used signs to block the view of the images from passersby. Lethbridge Students for Life contacted campus security, who arrived to respond to the situation. However, the protests dissipated shortly after Students for Life contacted security. It is not known what actions the University took to identify and prosecute these protesters who were in violation of the University’s anti-disruption policies.
When Students for Life planned to set up the same GAP display in October of 2014, the University placed new and unique restrictions on the club, as follows:
In October of 2010 the Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Lethbridge, Dr. Desmond Rochfort, ordered the removal of a piece of student artwork titled “It’s a Phallus, See” by Lethbridge student Claire Reid, which had been posted on the 8th level wall of the University Centre for the Arts, a designated location for the display of student artwork. The artwork, depicting a woman holding a penis, was deemed by administration to be inappropriate and potentially disturbing to some passersby, including children.
At a meeting of the Faculty of Fine Arts council in December of 2010, the Dean’s decision was overturned and Reid was invited to re-post her artwork on condition that she post signs warning passersby of the graphic content in the display. In the meeting it was also revealed that Dean Rochfort had violated the terms of the Student Art Placement Policy by not following protocol in reporting requests for removal of artwork and for denying Reid the choice to keep her artwork on display.
GRADE EXPLANATION: The student union earns a C 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 do not 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 University of Lethbridge Students Union (ULSU) Bylaw XXIII: Campaigns for Election Candidates and Referenda states:
1.1.All active members of the ULSU are entitled to campaign against any election candidate or for or against any referendum question;
1.1.1. There may only be one (1) registered campaign against any election candidate;
126.96.36.199. Any additional individuals who wish to campaign against that same election
candidate will be asked to work in conjunction with the registered campaign;
188.8.131.52.1. If an issue arises between the registered campaign and any additional
Campaigns arises [sic], this will be mediated by the CRO
Section 4 of Bylaw XXII – Clubs lists discrimination on the basis of political affiliation and religion among grounds for club de-ratification. The same rule is applied to Fraternities and Sororities in Section 4 of Bylaw XXIX.
Bylaw XII – Code of Conduct applies to employees and elected student representatives of the Union, and prohibits the “use of degrading or malicious statements or actions which in any way harms the membership, employee, or the integrity of the ULSU…”
Section 1 of Policy XVI – Clubs Policy states “[the] General Assembly has the authority to ratify or deny ratification to any student club”
In April of 2016, University of Lethbridge Students Union (ULSU) president, Brenna Scott, told a student to remove a Facebook posting he had wrote.
Scott took issue with an acronym used in the student’s post celebrating the end of classes, which ended with “Let’s get crazy on Friday and FHRITP.” The acronym represents a sexuality explicit phrase.
Scott warned the student ‘if you want to come to LCB [Last Class Bash], you need to be in my office at 9 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday).” The student eventually removed the posting.
ULSU has defended the free expression rights of its pro-life group when this group has faced censorship by the University. Then-ULSU president Shuna Talbot stated to the media that:
“We support all of our clubs in their demonstrations as long as they follow the appropriate processes which include getting approval from Risk and Safety Services and Security Services”