|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
Free expression and academic freedom are not referenced in the Mission, Vision and Values statements of the University of the Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT).
UOIT’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy defines Discrimination as:
The negative valuing, stereotyping, or discriminatory treatment of individuals and/or groups as defined by the provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code. Discrimination directed at any individual or group is unacceptable. Discrimination can be detected by its effects, and can be manifested in both personal attacks and insults, and in the structure of social institutions. It may be intentional or unintentional, the result of activity or arrangements that set out to discriminate or harm, or of ignorance or inadvertence. Discrimination may include, but is not limited to, behaviour such as the dissemination of hate literature, graffiti, racial slurs and jokes, derogatory remarks and gestures, and physical attacks; bias in administrative decisions, employment and workplace practices, tenure, promotion, appointment, leave, and salary increases; bias in academic decisions such as marks, in the choice of scheduling of academic activities, and decisions related to the content of courses and course materials; behaviour which could reasonably be interpreted as offensive and patronizing, and as undermining self respect or adversely affecting performance or working conditions; discrimination in the provision of goods and services or access to premises, accommodation, and other facilities.
The Policy defines Negative Environment as:
One or a series of, offensive, hostile, or intimidating comment(s) or conduct violating provisions in the Ontario Human Rights Code that creates a "poisoned" environment for individuals or groups. A complainant does not have to be a direct target to be adversely affected by a negative environment. Examples include, but are not limited to, exposure to graffiti, signs, or cartoons, remarks, exclusion, or adverse treatment related to one or more of the provisions in the Code.
The Technology Use Policy states:
All members of the UOIT community, including employees, students, alumni and authorized guests, may be granted access to technology resources for use in their academic‐ and administrative‐related activities. Users are expected to respect the university’s good name in all electronic dealings with those outside the university and are responsible for familiarizing themselves and abiding by the university policies and regulations regarding the appropriate use of its technology resources. This includes, but is not limited to:
Respecting the rights of other members of the university community who study, work and live within it and refraining from transmitting or displaying on their devices images, sounds or messages that might create an atmosphere of discomfort, harassment or offense to others;
Refraining from conduct that may interfere with, access, or impair the activities of others;
Consequences for violating the Technology Use Policy include suspension, expulsion or termination from the university.
Section 5.3 of the Policy on the Recognition of Student Organizations states that:
The University is respectful of the autonomy of student organizations and will not attempt to censor, control or interfere with any Recognized Student Organization on the basis of its philosophy, beliefs, interests or opinions expressed unless and until these lead to activities which are illegal, discriminatory, infringe the rights and freedoms of others within the University community, or are in violation of UOIT policies and procedures.
UOIT’s Student Conduct Policy states:
UOIT, as part of the broader community of scholars, is devoted to generating and appreciating ideas, building on and perpetuating knowledge, and seeking out and addressing the great questions of yesterday, today and tomorrow. The words and actions of all members of the UOIT community must therefore support and promote these broader scholarly goals, advance good citizenship and contribute to an environment conducive to the personal and intellectual growth of all who study, work and live within it.
UOIT strives to provide a safe environment free of discrimination, injustice and violence by instilling in its members the values of civility, responsibility and respect. As such the university depends on all members to promptly report on any activity or behaviour that may threaten or endanger the safety and security of the community and its members.
Students at UOIT enjoy many rights and privileges and also share the responsibilities associated with being members of the university community. Students have the freedom to pursue their intellectual and personal interests provided that their actions do not limit or infringe on the rights of other members of the university or the community in which it is situated.
Students have a responsibility to familiarize themselves with the university regulations and the conduct that is expected of them while studying at UOIT, which includes but is not limited to…
Respecting the rights of other members of the university community who study, work and live within it and refraining from conduct that endangers the physical and mental well‐being, health, safety, civil or human rights and property of self and/or others within the university community or visitors to the university;
Refraining from conduct that may damage, destroy, or constitutes fraudulent use of university property;
Refraining from conduct that jeopardizes the good order and proper functioning of the academic and non‐academic programs and activities of the university and its faculties and offices;
Article 10 of UOIT’s Collective Agreement with its faculty states:
The Parties agree that there shall be no discrimination, interference, restriction, or coercion exercised or practiced toward any Faculty Member in respect to their employment by reason of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability as these terms are defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Parties further agree that there shall be no discrimination, interference, restriction, or coercion exercised or practiced toward any Faculty Member in respect to their employment by reason of their membership or activity or non-activity in the Association, or any activity pursuant to the principles of academic freedom set out in Article 14.
Article 14 of the Collective Agreement states:
UOIT regards academic freedom as indispensable to the pursuit of knowledge. The freedom of Faculty Members to define research questions, to engage in research, to pursue the answers with rigor, and to disseminate knowledge according to their best judgment resides at the core of the University's mission. Accordingly, academic freedom is the right of every Faculty Member. The Employer expects its Faculty Members to exercise this freedom with integrity and with due regard for the rights and freedoms of others.
The authors are not aware of cases of UOIT limiting or restricting campus free speech rights, or discriminating against students or clubs on the basis of their opinion. However, the University did not speak out against the actions of its Student Association when it refused to grant club recognition to a campus pro-life club in the 2015-2016 year.
The Student Association of Durham College and UOIT is the student union for UOIT students. In its Bylaws, the Students Association states as one of its Principles “[t]o articulate the desires of students to fulfill the duties and be accorded the rights of citizens in Ontario, in Canada, and in the international community.”
Concerning elections and referenda, Bylaw 10.3 of the Student Association’s Bylaws empowers the Chief Returning Officer to “[r]eview and approve all campaign material produced by Candidates,” without specifying by what criteria the Chief Returning Officer may approve or deny materials. Section 10.9 d) further states that “it is the responsibility of the Candidates that all campaign materials and/or advertisements, conform to all policies and regulations of the [Student Association], and with all municipal, provincial, federal laws, as well as individual campus residences.”
Section 10.9 (f) of the Bylaws states “[a]ll campaign materials, where feasible, are to contain the following phrase somewhere in plain sight on the material: “Please recycle after the Election”.” Section 10.10 of the Bylaws regulates campaign spending, stating “[c]ampaign expenses shall not exceed $500 for each President candidate, $400 for each Vice President and Associate Vice President candidate, and $100 for each Director candidate.”
Bylaw 15 (b) establishes “Issue Policies” as follows:
Issue Policies are policies that the SA takes a stance on. It is policy that either opposes, supports and/or condones actions that the SA or third-party carries out.
To adopt, amend or rescind Issue Policies requires the support of a simple Board majority.
Governance policies regulate the behaviour of members of the Student Association. The Global Ends Policy states that “students will have…a voice. They will know their rights. They will be heard.”
The Student Association’s Feminist Framework Policy states that:
No SA resources, space, recognition or funding will be allocated to enhance groups/individuals whose primary/sole purpose is anti-choice activities. Such activities are define as any campaigns, actions, distribution, solicitation, or lobbying efforts that seek to limit a woman's right to choose what they can or cannot do with their own body. These activities also include any action or messaging that seeks to compromise and/or threaten the freedom and/or wellbeing of women who may contemplate an abortion or have chosen to have an abortion
The Student Association of Durham College and UOIT (“Student Association”) refused to grant club recognition to a campus pro-life group because of its stance on abortion. The Student Association claimed that allowing a pro-life club on campus would constitute “systemic societal oppression”, and would violate “human rights”. The Student Association further claims that only clubs which support abortion are “equity-seeking” and therefore allowed on campus.
The pro-life group Speak for the Weak’s application for club status was denied in September 2015. The students spent most of the fall semester unsuccessfully attempting to appeal the decision to the Student Association’s Board of Directors. Without club status, student groups cannot gain access to Student Association space and resources, making it very difficult to conduct activities and engage with the student body.
Speak for the Weak has launched a court application to reverse this decision. In its court application, Speak for the Weak argues that the Student Association violates its own policies and rules, fails to follow the principles of natural justice, bases its decision on irrelevant considerations, and fails to respect students’ freedoms of expression and association. The Justice Centre is representing Speak for the Weak in this action.