|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
GRADE EXPLANATION: The University earns an F for its policies. There is no clearly stated commitment to free speech. The university does not have 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 has at least one speech code. The university provides funding and other resources to groups, departments, committees, commissions or other bodies that engage in ideological advocacy. The University earns an C for its practices. The University's commitment to free speech has not recently been tested.
Section 1.1 of the University of Prince Edward Island’s (UPEI) Code of Conduct states that the school is “committed to creating a scholarly community characterized by honesty, civility, diversity, free inquiry, freedom from harassment, mutual respect and individual safety.”
Section 1.3 of the Code states “[t]he Code shall not be construed to prohibit peaceful assemblies, demonstrations, lawful picketing, or to unreasonably restrict freedom of speech or expression.”
Section 220.127.116.11. of the Code prohibits conduct if:
the alleged conduct would be viewed by a reasonable person to have, or might reasonably be seen to have an adverse effect on the proper functioning of the University, or the rights of a member of the University community to use and enjoy the University’s learning and working environment; or
Section 5 addresses disruption:
Disruptive or Dangerous Behaviours
18.104.22.168 Students are prohibited from conduct that:
22.214.171.124.1 infringes on the rights of others to participate in University activities;
126.96.36.199.2 creates a situation which endangers or threatens the health, safety or well-being of another individual, including conduct that involves an invasion of privacy through electronic communication or other methods; or
188.8.131.52.3 harms, injures or threatens the safety of any person, including where such conduct occurs within the classroom and including conduct that involves an invasion of privacy through electronic communication or other methods.
The UPEI Residence Handbook states as follows in its “Commitment to Diversity”:
Bigotry has no place within our community, nor does the right to disrespect or degrade another human being on the basis of age, national origin, physical challenge, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation.
The Handbook also states that the UPEI will not tolerate any of the following:
…verbal or written abuse, threats, intimidation, violence, or other forms of harassment against any member of its community. Harassment is defined as any attention or conduct (oral, written, graphic, or physical) by an individual or group who knows, or ought reasonably to know, that such attention or conduct is unwelcome/unwanted, offensive, or intimidating.
UPEI’s Fair Treatment Policy replaces UPEI’s previous Sexual Harassment Policy. The reason given for replacing this change was to include “other definitions of sexual harassment” as well as “to enable full investigations within the University.”
The Fair Treatment Policy states:
The University defines "harassment" within any University-related context as an incident or series of vexatious or disrespectful comments, displays or behaviors that demean, belittle, humiliate, embarrass, degrade or attempt to exclude; that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome and/or offensive; and which adversely affects the employment or academic status of the individual.
Section 6.5 further defines the sub-category “personal harassment” as follows:
…behavior, whether deliberate or negligent, which denies individuals their dignity and respect, is offensive, embarrassing or humiliating to the individual, isolates an individual or group and adversely affects the working or learning environment. In most cases this behavior will have manifested itself through a number of incidents. This does not preclude consideration of a single incident as constituting harassment.
The Policy also defines discrimination, in Section 6.6, incorporating the grounds of discrimination found in the Human Rights Act of Prince Edward Island. The Policy then proceeds further and includes “transphobia and heterosexism”, as additional grounds of discrimination.
To enforce the Fair Treatment Policy, the UPEI installed a Fair Treatment Advocate. Section 8.10 empowers the Advocate to “investigate and attempt to resolve cases of harassment.” Section 10 empowers the Advocate to bypass the informal processes of resolving cases (i.e. mediation, informal resolution counseling) and commence a formal investigation. The Advocate is not empowered to impose sanctions or remedial action, but is expected to recommend sanctions or remedial action to the UPEI President in a formal investigative report. Means of discipline/remediation are not listed in the Policy, except to say that it will be “appropriate to the offense and relevant circumstances of the case.”
Section 5.1.3 of the Policy asserts that the Policy should not be applied to detract from academic freedom, or freedom of expression and association:
The University community is committed to academic freedom and to freedom of expression and association. There should be an environment in which students and teaching and non-teaching staff can engage in free enquiry and open discussion of all issues. Neither this policy in general, nor its definitions in particular, is to be applied in such a way as to detract from the right of employees and students to engage in the frank discussion of potentially controversial matters, such as age, race, politics, religion, sex and sexual orientation. The Fair Treatment Advocate is obliged to uphold academic freedom, and freedom of expression and association. An academic and free community must also include freedom of movement and freedom of access to facilities and resources without fear of harassment, discrimination or violence.
UPEI’s Advertising Policy includes a measure of censorship:
Temporary advertising associated with individual events and their sponsors is permitted as long as such advertising meets the University’s concerns regarding taste of presentation and suitability of subject.
Though the Policy does not state what the University deems to be “suitable”, in Section 1.4, it does state that, “among those subjects which would be considered unsuitable for advertising, at this time the University names cigarettes and other products (or services) judged harmful to health or the environment.” However, Section 1.4 also states that “the general principle that will be followed in judging the suitability of advertising is whether or not it is consonant with the image of the University that the Board of Governors and the Senate wish to portray.”
The Space Planning and Administration Policy states, in Section 5.4.2.:
All classrooms, conference rooms, teaching labs, public computer labs, and public study spaces may be booked by any user group conducting University business. Under some circumstances, the availability may be limited by Facilities Management control (i.e. construction schedules, security requirements or staffing capabilities), or University prioritization (i.e. Teaching).
Controversial speakers and presentations often involve “security requirements” and their bookings could therefore be limited by Facilities management under this policy.
There has been controversy surrounding the University’s decision to censor an issue of The Cadre, which is UPEI’s student-run newspaper that is now only available online.
In 2006, The Cadre’s February 8 issue was removed from distribution stands on UPEI campus, on orders from the UPEI administration. This decision to remove the paper was later endorsed by the Student Union (more on the Student Union’s actions can be found in section 4 below). The administration was concerned about cartoons contained in the issue of the prophet Muhammed. UPEI President Wade MacLaughlan ordered security personnel to collect any copies of The Cadre and remove them from campus. According to MacLaughlan, “fewer than 100 copies were gathered up.” The remaining copies were confiscated by the Student Union and some remained with The Cadre.
President MacLaughlan stated that publishing cartoons is “an invitation to trouble”, and that, “we're not in the business of deliberately inviting people to be insulted to the point of causing an outrage.”
Clive Seligman, President of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, condemned the University’s actions, saying:
UPEI has given the impression that vigorous debate is to be avoided whenever offence may be taken, or at the very least that such debate is to occur only on terms decided by the university administration. Surely, this is not the image of UPEI that you want to promote.
It appears that UPEI assumed the issue would be found offensive by the student body. But UPEI Muslim Association head, Mian Ali, said he is “not particularly upset and would not have asked to have the paper removed from campus.” He also said, “To me it's just a cartoon. People are free to express their opinions. I can't control what people print, but freedom comes with a responsibility. If people want to abuse that responsibility and freedom it's up to them.”
The University of Prince Edward Island Student Union (UPEISU) states in its Policy Manual the following pertaining to the University’s student-run newspaper, The Cadre:
Board of Directors will meet prior to each issue going to print. At that time they will approve the content of the upcoming issue.
As well, the Policy Manual gives UPEI Integrated Promotions the “right to refuse or impose time limits on event postings for reasons including, but not limited to, the nature of the event and the number of ads currently running,” for its campus video screens.
The Policy Manual also states that:
All information posted from the UPEI SU Campus Screens account will be reviewed by the Administrative Assistant to ensure it is appropriate for University-wide distribution. In the event that content is questionable, it will either be rejected or the Manager of Integrated Promotions will be contacted for approval.
Not defined are the terms “appropriate”, “questionable”, or, “in good taste”, which is a restriction used for advertisements in the campus bar:
Advertisements for The Wave [campus pub] will be permitted, provided they are in good taste and follow the regulations set out by the PEILCC and the University Liquor Control Policy.
In regard posters, the Policy Manual requires that posters be “sponsored” by the UPEI or the UPEISU:
Only UPEI or UPEI SU recognized groups, organizations, departments or administration, as well as any active UPEI students are permitted to post on the Student Centre bulletin boards. Any outside groups, corporations, or organizations of any kind may have their posters removed unless they are sponsored by either the UPEI or UPEI SU and comply with the two guidelines listed above. The onus is on all outside organizations to seek sponsorship in regards to their posters. Posters must receive a dated UPEI SU stamp prior to being posted.
The UPEISU supported the confiscation and censorship of one issue of UPEI’s student-run newspaper, The Cadre. The February 8, 2006 issue of the paper, which contained cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, was banned from campus by UPEI. In the days following, UPEISU ordered that all remaining issues be returned to UPEISU, with the following justification:
While the Student Union supports the freedom of the press, there is also a
sense that with that freedom comes the responsibility to balance
freedom and responsibility effectively, a consideration that we feel
was not accommodated in this case. While these cartoons were reproduced
in The Cadre to inform students of the issues at hand and were
in no way meant to inflict any further injury, it is now apparent that
we must take into account the overwhelming reaction that these cartoons
have caused worldwide and therefore we must react accordingly. It is
also to be noted that there is a great deal of sensitivity involved
with this contentious issue, a fact personified by the recent outrage
and riots that were sparked in direct result of the publication of
these cartoons. In consideration of this, in respect to those
significantly affected, and for the overall well being of the UPEI
community, it is felt that this action was essential. We reaffirm that
despite this action, no further insult was ever intended by the
publication of these cartoons in The Cadre.
According to CBC News, the UPEISU had initially taken a stance in favor of The Cadre’s editorial autonomy. However, UPEISU President Ryan Gallant stated that “as the day went on” the Union changed its mind on the matter. Gallant reported that he had met with President MacLaughlan four times on February 8.