|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
GRADE EXPLANATION: The University earns a C for its policies. There is not 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 a C for its practices. The University has not recently censored or failed to uphold free speech on campus, but its policy framework does not prevent censorship from occurring.
The University of Regina’s (U of R) Vision, Mission Values webpage states that, “[w]e balance our duty to academic integrity with our commitment to academic freedom in our work and interaction.”
The U of R’s Code of Conduct states that “[t]he University will not tolerate harassment, discrimination, unsafe work practices, fraud, or other unethical conduct. Members are expected to align their behaviour with the University’s Code of Conduct.”
The University’s Respectful University policy states:
Harassment and discrimination are, fundamentally, a selective denial of the basic human right to be treated with dignity and respect. The University will not tolerate or condone harassment or discrimination, and will take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure employees or students are not subjected to harassment and discrimination and will take all reasonable steps to prevent this type of behaviour and to stop it if it occurs.
In order to constitute harassment, conduct, comment, display, action or gesture does not need to be directed at a specific individual. For example, display of any inappropriate material such as a poster or screen-saver, or inappropriate comments, i.e. racial, religious, sexist or homophobic slurs overheard by another employee may also constitute harassment.
Third parties invited to the University could engage or participate in the harassment of an employee and/or student. The University may have limited ability to investigate or control their conduct. However, the University shall take reasonably practicable action to stop or reduce the risk to its employee/students of being harassed by third parties.
“Harassment Based on Prohibited Grounds” includes “[u]nwelcome remarks, jokes, innuendoes, propositions or taunting about a person’s body, attire, sex or sexual orientation.” Included as “Personal Harassment” in the policy is “[i]nsulting, derogatory or degrading comments, jokes or gestures.”
The Respectful University policy protects the academic freedom of faculty:
This policy shall not be interpreted, administered, or applied to infringe the academic freedom for academic staff members. When academic staff members engage in teaching, research and dissemination of knowledge, they are, therefore, entitled to the freedom to carry out such activities without arbitrary interference. The frank discussion of ideas, the pursuit and publication of research and the study and teaching of material with controversial content may not constitute harassment.
The U of R’s Academic Calendar contains policies governing student behaviour. Section 188.8.131.52 states the U of R’s commitment to upholding academic freedom and free expression when governing student conduct:
A primary responsibility of the University is to provide its students with the opportunity for inquiry and the freedom to discuss and express one’s views openly without fear of retaliation, or abuse of person or property. These attributes are the foundation of good citizenship.
Section 184.108.40.206 of the Calendar prohibits the following as academic misconduct:
disruption of instructional activities (being any conduct which makes it difficult to proceed with scheduled lectures, seminars, discussion group meetings and related activities, or with examinations, tests, or use of library, laboratory or research facilities);
any conduct which harms or threatens to harm the proper functioning of University programs or activities, the rights of members or guests of the University, the safety or well-being of members or guests of the University, or the property of the University, its members and guests;
U of R’s Publications Distribution Policy states “[t]his policy is not intended to censor people bringing publications on campus.
The University does not provide funding or other resources to groups that engage in ideological advocacy.
On Monday, April 14, 2014, at the U of R’s request, two individuals were arrested, hand-cuffed, and removed from campus for peacefully expressing highly unpopular views against homosexuality, and refusing to leave. They were later charged with mischief. The men had signs with slogans like “sodomy is a sin”. In December of 2014, the two individuals were found not guilty of mischief and stated to the media that they would be returning to the University in the future. The University has not responded to the court ruling.
In June of 2011, controversy erupted in the context of a scheduled lecture series, ‘Profs in the Park,’ organized by the U of R and the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID) of the City of Regina. A lecture by Emily Eaton, a professor of human geography, was entitled “Solidarity with Palestine: The case for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.” RDBID insisted that professor Eaton change the topic of her lecture in order for the event to proceed on June 14.
The U of R chose to withdraw from the partnership and hold lectures on its own. The U of R regarded RDBID’s decision to cancel as censorship, and defended the right of professors and citizens to express unpopular views:
"We're not happy with (RDBID's) decision. It's not consistent with the traditions of universities across the country and we'd rather withdraw from the series than passively accept that decision," said Faculty of Arts Dean Richard Kleer.”
GRADE EXPLANATION: The student union earns a F for its policies. The student union does not have an express commitment to free speech on campus; 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 impose unfair restrictions on campaign speech and literature; the student union takes 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 Regina Students’ Union’s (URSU) Constitution provides that membership in the URSU expires on the following grounds:
(2) Membership ceases upon expulsion, require to discontinue, transfer, graduation, failure to pay the required Students’ Union membership fees, or engages in any activity which undermines the integrity of the Students’ Union as decided by a two-thirds majority quorum vote of the Board of Directors.
Section 3.2 of URSU’s Poster Policy states that “URSU wishes to ensure that the promotion of events is done in a safe, equitable, respectful, and non-discriminatory manner.” It further states:
Posters, which may be perceived as being discriminatory, offensive, or exploitative on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, age, race, class, religion, creed, ancestry, country of origin, ethnicity, or other grounds shall be deemed to be in violation of this policy, and therefore will not be permitted to be posted in or around URSU space.
Section 3(7) of URSU’s Elections Bylaw is the governing document for URSU elections. The Bylaw gives significant discretion to the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) to censor literature and other campaign materials:
The Chief Returning Officer (CRO) has the power to disqualify candidates, materials, representatives or members who, in the opinion of the Chief Returning Officer, have contravened the provisions of this By-Law or the Policies and Resolutions of the Students’ Union.
The student union takes positions on issues outside its mandate, including the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.
During a Special General Meeting of URSU on April 10, 2013, a motion was passed reversing the 2012 Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions motion (see below) and instead committing to “continue to stimulate critical thought and discussion through full access to resources for students wishing to discuss/debate contemporary issues shaping our collective experience.”
In February of 2012, the University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) resolved at its Annual General Meeting to:
Join student organizations around the globe by endorsing the 2005 call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions from Palestinian civil society; and Commit to identifying and divesting from companies that support or profit from Israeli war crimes, occupation and oppression; and Affirm that students have a vital role in supporting struggles for social justice, and stand in solidarity with Palestinians’ struggle for self determination and freedom.