|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) has an Academic Freedom Policy which states:
Institutions of higher learning serve the common good of society and are dedicated to the pursuit and dissemination of truth, knowledge, and understanding through fostering independent thinking and expression. These ends cannot be achieved without academic freedom.
Academic freedom includes the right of all members of the BCIT community to inquire, discuss, and express themselves, study, conduct research, teach, publish, create and exhibit their work, associate, and peaceably assemble without deference to prescribed doctrine on ideas, principles, concepts, or issues related to pedagogy and research.
BCIT believes that the exchange of knowledge and ideas in an environment of academic freedom is an indispensable foundation of quality education, research, and scholarship. Academic freedom extends to the entire BCIT community.
Under “Duties and Responsibilities,” the Academic Freedom Policy states:
All members of the BCIT community are expected to support and protect the fundamental principle of academic freedom and contribute to an environment of tolerance and mutual respect through the use of respectful communication that values both dignity of others and difference of opinion.
Academic freedom does not obviate the responsibility to respect BCIT policies, local and federal laws, or human rights and freedoms. Hence, academic freedom does not entitle anyone to promote hatred or contempt for any social, national, or ethnic group, to display incompetence in teaching or scholarship, or to violate the rights of others.
In section 8.1, “Dangerous or Disruptive Behaviour”, BCIT’s Student Code of Conduct prohibits “Disrupting Institute activities”, “Causing disruption within the learning environment”, and “Endangering or threatening the health, safety, well-being or property of any person.”
BCIT funds an Office of Respect, Diversity, and Inclusion, which has committed to ideological advocacy programs such as “Ensuring all employees receive training on diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism” and “Providing platforms and training to staff and students to address issues of racism, diversity, unconscious bias, and allyship.”
The authors found no recent cases of the university censoring students, faculty or invited guests on campus.
The British Columbia Institute of Technology Student Association (BCITSA) does not mention protections for free expression in its mission, vision or values statements.
The BCITSA has an Inclusivity Statement that reads:
Guided by the students’ voice, the BCIT Student Association endeavours to foster and create a culture that encourages diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice within our programs, services and operations.
BCITSA’s Club Policy states, under “Designated Clubs”:
A Designated Club means a classification of Club that bears the name of and professes the policies of a political party, religious organization, or similar. Designated Clubs shall normally have all the rights and responsibilities as a General Club, except as otherwise specified in BCITSA Policy. Designated Clubs shall not have access to funding of any kind.
As per the BCITSA Bylaws, Bylaw 11 governs elections, and restricts campaign materials:
8(b) The use of lewd, indecent, or suggestive material or the defamation of campaign materials, irrespective of the form they may take is prohibited. A candidate using such materials or acting in such a manner shall be disqualified upon the decision of the Election Committee.
Bylaw 19 governs clubs, and states:
(a) Such Clubs shall in all respects be subject to the Constitution, Bylaws, and rules of the Association.
(b) Except as specifically provided by resolution of the Council, such Clubs shall not receive funds from any outside organizations without approval of Council.
(c) The Association in no way will provide financial assistance for the political or religious Clubs, or be liable in any way for the action of such clubs.
(d) Violation of any of the aforesaid regulations shall render the clubs concerned liable for suspension.
BCITSA does not take stances on positions outside of its mandate.
In February of 2016, it was reported by the media that a student at BCIT was charged with voyeurism in November 2015 for having recorded videos of people in the men’s restrooms, and that the university had not informed students after the charges were laid.
Following the revelations, BCITSA publications manager Dan Post advised staff at the campus publication “Link Magazine” to promote other “positive” stories when they ran coverage of this incident:
You probably received this email below from the SA, since you’re all employees of the SA. I just wanted to add, that if you are approached about this, or plan on reporting about this for BCIT mag or Evolution, or what have you, I would also suggest that you take this opportunity to promote all the positive BCIT student stories coming out of this campus and LINK magazine. Show them all the GREAT students that we spotlight in our magazine and on our website, and brag about the positive things happening in our pages. If they’re looking for a juicy student story from BCIT for their homepages, point them towards our Student Spotlights, or our thoughtful and amazing contributors. It’s a good way to turn a negative (kind of non-news story) into a positive thing while we have the attention of the world-at-large, even if just for a moment.
Dan Post | Publications Manager
BCIT Student Association
Post explained to media why he sent the email:
We do a lot of great work and a lot of awesome stories that I don’t think get picked up as often as they should. And if people are paying attention to BCIT at any time in large masses, we should always use the opportunity to promote the great stories, and reach a larger audience with the positive and student spotlight stories that we tend to do for the magazine
…just because it is a negative kind of story, and we tend to do tons of positive stories. That’s kind of my personal opinion, and not really up for debate on whether or not it’s a news story
Following this email, two journalists working at Link Magazine released the email to the campus radio station. They were subsequently suspended from their positions at the publication.