|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
Bishop’s University’s Mission Statement includes the following:
We invite our students, who come from Quebec, across Canada, and around the world, to practice the respectful and informed dialogue that sustains democracy, to exercise the rights and responsibilities of good citizenship and to realize their potential for leadership.
In the Statutes of Bishop’s University, Article 1 Section 8, it is stated:
8.0 “Tenure” shall mean permanency of appointment and the right of a faculty member or librarian not to be dismissed except for cause. Such action shall not be taken in violation of normal academic freedom. Academic freedom for faculty members shall include the right to be appointed regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or politics. It also includes the right to teach, investigate, speculate and publish without deference to prescribed doctrine. It includes the right to criticize the University in a non-violent and lawful way.
8.1 Academic Freedom for Students. Students shall also enjoy academic freedom, which is defined as follows:
8.1.1 The right of the student not to be expelled without cause, or failed for other than academic reasons.
8.1.2 The right of enrolment in courses regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or politics.
8.1.3 The right to criticize the University in a non-violent and lawful way without fear of expulsion or failure.
Article 4 of Bishop’s Charter of Students Rights and Responsibilities states:
Students enjoy freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly within our University Community, provided these are exercised in a civil, respectful manner. This includes the right for any group to debate any matter and to engage in lawful demonstrations. Students have the right to organize, publicize, belong to, or participate in any lawful association, and shall not be subject to prejudice by the University because of their membership in such groups.
Article 1 of the Charter of Students Rights and Responsibilities, “General Rights and Responsibilities,” states:
Every student has an equal right to be treated equitably and with dignity and respect. This right must not be impaired by discrimination based on race, colour, ethnic or national origin, civil status, religion, creed, political convictions, sex, gender, sexual orientation, social condition, age, or personal handicap. It is understood that a distinction, exclusion or preference based on relevant academic or physical aptitudes or qualifications does not constitute discrimination. Every student has the same responsibility to treat every other member of our University Community equally, without discrimination, in a civil and respectful manner that neither demeans nor degrades the other person. This applies to all person-to-person contact as well as to references made in writing or via any electronic medium that is intended to become public, or ought reasonably to be expected to become public (such as social networking websites).
Article 1 further states:
All students retain the rights and freedoms recognized in the laws of Canada and Québec.
Article 3 of the Charter reads:
Every member of our University Community has the right to be free from vexatious conduct, from verbal, physical, or psychological abuse or intimidation, and from sexual or any other form of harassment… Students have the responsibility to refrain from behaviour that obstructs teaching, learning, or any class or function, and the responsibility to refrain from malicious, vexatious or abusive conduct, and acts of intimidation, harassment, or assault.
Article 4 of the Code of Student Conduct, “Rules of Conduct and Offences,” states
“Nothing in this Code is intended to prohibit student academic freedom, peaceful assemblies, demonstrations, lawful picketing, or to inhibit free speech.”
The authors are not aware of Bishop’s University providing funding or resources to any university body that engages in ideological advocacy.
Bishop’s University hosts an annual on-campus lecture series, “The Donald Lecture Series,” which it describes as follows:
Made possible by the generous support of Bishop’s alumnus John Donald ’60, DCL ’12, the Donald Lecture Series brings speakers of national and international renown to the Bishop’s campus to provide insight, provoke thought, and stimulate debate on the most compelling issues and events in the world today. All lectures are free of charge and open to the public.
Toronto-based criminal lawyer Marie Henein was invited to speak on February 10, 2017 as part of the 2016-2017 lecture series. The invitation drew criticism from students and women’s groups across the country, who opposed Henein’s “aggressive treatment of women” during her legal representation of former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi, who was accused of sexual assault. Ghomeshi was found not guilty in this high-profile case.
In response to demands to cancel Ms. Henein’s speech, Bishop’s University principal Michael Goldbloom penned an op-ed defending the University’s decision:
Recently there have been news stories questioning Bishop’s University’s decision to invite Marie Henein to speak on our campus next February.
Henein is a criminal defence lawyer who has defended numerous types of cases including acting on behalf of former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi in his sexual assault trial.
Bishop’s, along with Acadia, Mount Allison and St. Francis Xavier, is one of the members of the Maple League of Universities, and there is a possibility that Ms Henein’s talk will be live-streamed to one or more of the other campuses.
A student at one of those universities has received national coverage for her assertion that Henein’s talk should be cancelled because it will serve to silence victims and to perpetuate rape culture.
The executive director of the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre said that by inviting Henein we “are potentially retraumatizing students … who have experienced sexual violence.”
The issue of sexual violence on university campuses and in society at large is a very serious one. At Bishop’s, as at many other universities, we have implemented initiatives to educate our community, to reduce the incidence of sexual assault and to support victims.
We have given extensive consideration about how best to support people who assert that they have been sexually assaulted while respecting the rights of the accused.
One of the critical challenges facing our criminal justice system is how best to reconcile our desire to protect victims of sexual assault so that they are not victimized again in the judicial process while preserving the presumption of innocence and requiring the state to make its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
How our criminal justice system deals with sexual assault cases is a difficult issue. And it is important that our universities be places where difficult issues can be discussed in an intelligent, informed and respectful way.
We should not shy away from confronting tough questions.
One of the reasons that we so fiercely defend academic freedom is because we believe that a university must be a place where controversial ideas can be debated.
Henein is one of Canada’s preeminent defence attorneys. As is evident from an article that she wrote after Hillary Clinton’s electoral defeat, she is also a strong advocate for the advancement of girls and women.
If any of our students see a contradiction in that, I hope that they will come to her lecture and ask her about it.
No one is required to be at her lecture, but whether their views are reinforced or changed, I am confident that everyone who attends will learn something.
We look forward to welcoming her on our campus.
Ms. Henein’s speech proceeded as planned.
One of the objectives of the Bishop’s University Students’ Representative Council (SRC), as listed in The Bylaws of the Bishop’s University Students’ Representative Council, is “To safeguard the rights of the individual members of the SRC, as given in the Bishop’s University Charter of Student Rights and Responsibilities and as given in the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Human Rights and Freedoms.”
In the Bylaws, the SRC lists under their Responsibilities:
II 2.3: The SRC may adopt a position on any issue that directly affects the wellbeing of the membership.
II 2.4: The SRC reserves the right to refuse any external funding which would jeopardize the ability of the SRC – including all clubs and constituents – to express a viewpoint or opinion counter to the donor.
The SRC defines “psychological harassment” in their Harassment Policy as:
Any vexatious behaviour in the form of repeated and hostile or unwanted conduct, verbal comments, actions or gestures, that affects an employee’s dignity or psychological or physical integrity and that results in a harmful work environment for the employee. For greater certainty, psychological harassment includes such behaviour in the form of such verbal comments, actions or gestures of a sexual nature. A single serious incidence of such behaviour that has a lasting harmful effect on an employee may also constitute psychological harassment.
The SRC Clubs Manual states in its General Rules:
vii. The SRC aspires to facilitate and encourage the participation of all students, and any other persons associated with the SRC or Bishop’s University to ensure all members of our diverse community are welcomed, respected, accepted and supported in all facets of their shared experience.
The Clubs Manual also reads:
The individuals involved in SRC clubs are responsible for any views held or expressed. The SRC reserves the right to reject a group’s application to create a club if the club’s values are not in line with the policies of the SRC or Bishop’s University, if they present unwarranted safety concerns to the student body and/or greater community, if they infringe on the territory or function of other clubs or organizations on campus, or if the leadership of their club is not in good standing with the SRC or the University.
Per the Bishop’s University SRC Poster Policy,
3.01 Criteria: i. Any individual or group wishing to advertise or place posters in the Student Union Building and in all academic buildings must conform to the following policy. All posters/advertisements must be tasteful and inoffensive. Any poster/advertisement that violates this policy will be removed and discarded. Failure to comply with any of the criteria will result in immediate loss of poster privileges.
The authors are not aware of the Students’ Representatives Council (SRC) discriminating against a campus group or club based on its views or opinions.
As part of the 2019-2020 Strategic Plan, the SRC stated they intend on implementing an inclusivity training session for all Orientation Week leaders and judges.
In the 2018–19 financial year,* Bishop’s University received $31,567,593 in taxpayer dollars in the form of government grants. These taxpayer funds accounted for 41.4% of their annual revenue.
*Bishop’s University did not make their 2019–20 financial statements available by the time of publication of the 2020 Campus Freedom Index.