|Student Union Policies
|Student Union Practices
Capilano University lists among its Values: “diversity, and the individuality of learners; a culture of inquiry and evidence-based decision making; academic integrity; open engagement with ideas and respectful engagement with each other; personal accountability for the integrity and success of the University; commitment to our communities; transparency and an ethic of fairness.”
Capilano University maintains an Academic Freedom policy which states:
Academic freedom is the freedom to engage in teaching, learning, research, or other creative work in order to expand knowledge and to do so in an atmosphere of free inquiry and exposition. Academic freedom is the right to examine, question, teach and learn in an environment that supports the need to investigate, speculate, and comment without reference to prescribed doctrine.
Academic freedom is essential in institutions of higher education if they are to make their proper contribution to the common good; the common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition. This belief, and not the interest of the individual faculty member or even the interest of a particular institution, is the justification for academic freedom.
Faculty members are entitled to academic freedom when teaching and discussing subject matter and when engaging in research, scholarship, publishing or producing creative work, subject to the responsible performance of these and other academic duties. The right of faculty to academic freedom carries with it the duty and responsibility to use that freedom in a manner consistent with the scholarly obligation to base research and teaching on an honest search for knowledge.
Controversy is a normal aspect of teaching and academic enquiry, and the knowledge and the beliefs of a faculty member may be incorporated into that which is taught. The freedom to teach and to learn, however, must be joined by a constant effort to distinguish between knowledge and belief. Freedom must be exercised in the context of a commitment to accuracy and integrity.
As part of their teaching activities, faculty members are entitled to conduct frank discussion of potentially controversial matters related to their subjects. This freedom of expression shall be based on mutual respect for the opinions of students and other members of the academic community.
As faculty members, librarians have a duty to promote and maintain intellectual freedom. Consequently they have the right to express their academic judgement in the development of the library collection even if materials may be considered controversial.
Faculty members also have the right to exercise their legal rights as citizens and should not suffer any penalties from the exercise of such rights. When faculty members communicate as citizens, they must be free from institutional censorship or discipline. As members of a learned profession, and as representatives of an educational institution, faculty members may choose, or may be called upon, to communicate publicly in an area of expertise or on behalf of an area of the University. In such instances, it is appropriate for them to identify themselves as members of the University community, but faculty members should not present their views on any matter, in any medium, (e.g. speech, writing or social media) as the official position of the University.
Capilano’s Use of College’s Public Space by Student Clubs or Groups policy includes in its list of requirements for space usage that and “[a]ny behaviour that is deemed to be disruptive, aggressive, confrontational, or considered to be a form of harassment will not be tolerated by the College and any permission previously granted will be revoked immediately and the person(s) asked to cease the activities.”
According to the Student Code of Conduct, students can be found guilty from “Misconduct that occurs through the use of technology-based media and is directly linked to the University or carried out using University resources such as computers, Capilano email, or wireless internet.”
Prohibited behaviours under the Student Code of Conduct include:
5.1.7. Disruptive Behaviour – Speech, actions, or unreasonable demands for attention that interfere with or obstruct, instruction, learning, and/or services or access to instruction, learning and/or services
5.1.9. Attack on the Dignity or Security of an Individual or Group – Engaging in Misconduct that is demeaning, intimidating, harassing, or discriminatory towards one or more Members of the University Community. This includes, but is not limited to, all protected grounds under the BC Human Rights Code. Actions such as coercion, blackmail, and hazing/initiation are also prohibited.
The authors are not aware of Capilano University providing funding or resources to any university body that engages in ideological advocacy.
In May of 2014, a sculpture depicting Capilano University president Kris Bulcroft wrapped in a U.S. flag with a poodle was ordered removed from the University’s designated sculpture area by the University administration, because administration decided the sculpture constituted “workplace harassment of an individual employee, intended to belittle and humiliate the President.”
“Blathering On in Krisendom” was created by the University’s sculpture instructor George Rammell and had been put on display since May of 2013, as a way of protesting arts department cuts. Professor Rammell reported the theft of his sculpture to the RCMP upon discovering it stolen. The University offered to return the sculpture to Rammell if he promised not to display it on campus.
A report issued by the Canadian Association of University Teachers found that Capilano University’s administration had “violated academic freedom by applying an overly broad interpretation of respectful workplace and harassment policies to essentially gag George Rammell.” The report also recommended that the University publicly apologize to Rammell, which it has not done to date.
In its Constitution, the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) includes in its “Purposes” a commitment “to represent and advance the rights and interests of its members.”
In section XIV of the CSU Procedures Manual, students are guaranteed “the right to voice their views and concerns to the Board and other appropriate bodies of the Society,” and “the right to use the facilities of the Society and other facilities as may be determined from time to time by the Society, the University, and the Board.”
Section XV, Article 1 of the CSU Procedures Manual states that the Chief Returning Officer shall have the authority to “review and approve all campaign material prior to its use, posting, or distribution,” and “have the power to interpret these Electoral Procedures.”
Section XV, Article 3 states that “the Chief Returning Officer may establish further rules for postering” and “campaign-related e-mail messages may be sent, and campaign-related material may be posted on web pages, subject to any restrictions put in place by the Chief Returning Officer.”
Under Article 2 of the Club Governance Procedures, a club application can be denied by the Student Life Committee for any reason:
The CSU takes positions on issues outside their mandate, such as the Canadian Blood Services’ blood donation criteria, “climate justice”, and “Indigenization.” The CSU states “Capilano University students, faculty, and staff live and work on the stolen lands of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ təməxʷ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), shíshálh (Sechelt), and Lil’wat nations.”
In their 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, the CSU writes:
A strategic plan can often be used to uphold colonial systems of oppression, which is why one of our guiding principles includes divesting from colonial power, and championing Indigenization. As an organization we pledge to challenge colonial
values to better support all of our members.
The authors are not aware of cases of the CSU limiting or restricting campus free speech rights, or discriminating against students or clubs on the basis of their opinion.
Between 2006 and 2008 the predecessor of the Capilano Students’ Union, the Capilano College Students’ Union (which operated until 2008 when the then-Capilano College was redesignated as Capilano University), repeatedly denied official club status to the pro-life student group Capilano College Heartbeat Club, a decision they justified by using a motion passed in 2006 that made the Students’ Union “pro-choice.” The first rejection of club status occurred in the summer of 2006, immediately after the Students’ Union passed its pro-choice motion. After the club’s second application was rejected, this time on grounds that the club would hinder “a woman’s right to choose,” Heartbeat filed a Human Rights complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. The CSU failed to convince the Tribunal to throw out the case, and settled with Heartbeat in May of 2008. Heartbeat’s application for club status was accepted by the CSU in September of 2008.