|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
Freedom of expression and academic freedom are not referenced in the Vision, Mission, Goals, or 2023 Strategic Plan of Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU).
KPU’s Principles of Academic Freedom and Responsibility Policy states:
The rights of members of the University community are not fundamentally different from those of other members of society. The University, however, has a special autonomy, and reasoned dissent plays a particularly vital role in its existence. To that end, the University places particular emphasis upon certain values which are essential to its nature as an academic institution. Among these are freedom of speech and academic freedom.
The censorship of information is inimical to the free pursuit of knowledge. Therefore, no censorship based on moral, religious or political values shall be permitted against any communication or informational material, including collections in the University libraries.
KPU’s Student Rights and Responsibilities states:
Students have the right to free inquiry, expression, belief, political association and assembly, provided that University policies and procedures are not violated in doing so.
Students are responsible for exercising their freedoms with honesty, integrity, and respect for the principles of justice, equality and human rights.
Students are responsible for contributing to making the KPU community safe, respectful and inclusive. Students must refrain from conduct that threatens or endangers the health, safety, well-being or dignity of any person.
In the Student Conduct Policy, Section 3 (The University’s Rights and Responsibilities), it reads:
KPU’s Respectful Workplace Policy contains a statement excluding the Policy from interfering with academic freedom:
This Policy should not be interpreted, administered, or applied to infringe on the academic freedom of employees, as described in the University’s Principles of Academic Freedom and Responsibility Policy and the collective agreement between the University and the Kwantlen Faculty Association.
KPU provides funding and resources to a President's Diversity and Equity Committee (PDEC) which defines itself as a “group dedicated to furthering the goal of diversity and equity within the KPU community...The PDEC Fund provides us with the opportunity to sponsor initiatives and activities that benefit the KPU community.”
In 2012, Kwantlen Polytechnic University failed to condemn the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) when that body chose to deny club status to a pro-life campus group (see “Student Union Practices”).
On July 28, 2010, Kwantlen student Emery Warner was escorted off campus by four security personnel. Warner was distributing pamphlets to protest Kwantlen’s then-new catering company, Sodexo.
Kwantlen’s VP for Student Affairs, Jody Gordon, stated that she was worried the pamphlets would have a negative impact on one of the campus cafés which was mentioned in the flyer.
The Runner, Kwantlen’s campus press, reported on this July 28 incident:
Security first approached Warner with Bill Keith and Bassanio Tsang from Sodexo who briefly questioned him about the flyer and asked if they could sit down and talk about the merits of Sodexo. Warner says he stated that he wasn’t interested in negotiating with them and took off to class to write an exam.
After his exam Warner says that security was waiting for him and soon after he was met outside by Gordon. According to Warner, Gordon demanded to see his student ID, which he refused to do.
According to section C.21 under Kwantlen’s student code of conduct, if a student refuses to comply with the reasonable directions of staff and faculty they can be kicked off campus. Refusing to show ID falls under refusing to comply and gave grounds for security to escort Warner off campus.
But before he was kicked off campus, Warner said that Gordon threatened to punish him. “She said that we’re going to look at disciplinary action within the institution,” says Warner. “She also hinted to taking legal action against me saying that the flyer had been passed on to Sodexo’s legal team.”
The next day, Warner continued to distribute pamphlets while campus security followed behind him, taking the pamphlets from students after Warner had distributed them.
VP Student Affairs Gordon told the Runner that after reviewing the security report, no punitive measures would be taken against Warner.
The Kwantlen Students Association (KSA) does not reference free expression or academic freedom in its mission statement.
Section XI, Article 1 of the Regulations of the Kwantlen Students Association (Regulations) governing elections mandates the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) to “review and approve all campaign material prior to its use, posting, or distribution in accordance with this regulation, with the exception of Social Media” without giving any criteria on which to approve or deny materials. Article 9(1)(ix) of Section XI states that “during an election or referendum, the Chief Returning Officer or her designate may make rulings and interpretations.”
Section XIII, Article 2 of the Regulations, “Establishment of Recognized Student Groups”, states:
(a) organising and participation in social, leisure, and recreational activities; or
(b) expressing social, political, and religious opinions or causes; or
(c) the shared academic interests of students in connection with a program of study, school, or faculty of the University.
Section XIV, Article 2(d) of the Regulations states that, “[t]he Events Coordinator shall reject any [event] planning tool, which, in the opinion of the Clubs and Events Coordinator, proposes an event which is frivolous, unreasonable, dangerous, or otherwise prudent for the KSA to reject.”
The KSA takes official stances on decolonization, thermal coal exports, and divestment from publicly traded fossil fuel companies.
On October 12, 2012, first-year student Oliver Capko applied to have his student group, Protectores Vitae (Protectors of Life), officially ratified by the KSA. After approximately one month had passed, the Executive Committee of the KSA responded by denying club recognition to Protectores Vitae because the club’s position on a social and political issue (abortion) differed from the KSA’s position on that issue.
The Justice Centre got involved and wrote a letter to the KSA demanding that it cease its illegal discrimination against Protectores Vitae. In the face of an impending lawsuit by JCCF, the KSA Council on December 6, 2012, reversed its decision and accepted Protectores Vitae as a fully-ratified club.
In the 2018–19 financial year,* Kwantlen Polytechnic University received $71,531,000 in taxpayer dollars in the form of government grants. These taxpayer funds accounted for 33.3% of their annual revenue.
*Kwantlen Polytechnic University did not make their 2019–20 financial statements available by the time of publication of the 2020 Campus Freedom Index.