|Student Union Policies
|Student Union Practices
Upon the request of the Ontario government, in December 2018, Lakehead University passed a new Free Expression Policy which states:
Lakehead considers official student groups' compliance with this Policy as condition for ongoing financial support or recognition, and encourages student unions to adopt policies that align with the Free Expression Policy.
The Free Expression Policy provides the following exemptions:
Expression that violates the law is not allowed. While all forms of expression should be undertaken in a manner that also recognizes the free expression rights of others, Lakehead may properly restrict expression, for example, that violates the law, is threatening, harassing, or defamatory; discriminatory or invades privacy or confidentiality interests; or compromises health and safety.
Lakehead University’s Code of Student Behaviour and Disciplinary Procedures was replaced in May 2019 with three Student Codes of Conduct.
The Student Code of Conduct, Non-Academic states:
The ability to learn can be preserved through respect for the rights of others, respect for the free expression of ideas, and respect for the law.
The new Code further states:
No Student shall interfere, obstruct or disrupt University Operations (e.g. teaching, research field and/or community placements, practicums, studying, Student events, disciplinary proceedings, etc.). No Student shall incite hatred or violence on University Premises or while engaged in University Operations, individually or with a group or in connection with a demonstration.
Lakehead University’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Procedures provides some examples of “harassment”:
...gestures, remarks, jokes, taunting, innuendo, display of offensive materials, threats, imposition of academic penalties without just cause, electronic distribution of offensive material, hazing, stalking, shunning or exclusion related to the prohibited grounds.
Lakehead University’s Office of Human Rights and Equity seeks to develop human rights-related policies with the university, provide training programs, and support on-campus events that “help equity seeking groups.”
The authors are not aware of cases of the University limiting or restricting campus free speech rights, or discriminating against students or clubs on the basis of their opinion. However, the University failed to condemn the actions of its student union when it censored speech during a student-organized film screening (see section on “Student Union Practices”).
The Lakehead University Students’ Union (LUSU) Constitution does not mention freedom of expression or academic freedom as a core principle.
The LUSU Clubs Policy says:
Please note that the LUSU by-laws do not allow for political clubs (such as a club affiliated with an official political party) to qualify for the $200 club grant.
The Elections Policy 13.2 states that “All Campaign materials must be approved in writing by the CRO prior to their distribution by Candidates online or in hardcopy,” but does not provide criteria by which the CRO can deny approval for materials.
The LUSU does not take positions on issues outside of its mandate.
The Lakehead University Christian Group (LUCG) booked a room for March 15, 2019, to watch "Evolution's Achilles Heels", produced by Creation Ministries International (CMI). After the Lakehead University Student Union (LUSU) investigated CMI, LUSU immediately cancelled the booking, claiming that CMI had "discriminatory" content on its website.
In the end, LUCG members met with LUSU and agreed to remove any reference to CMI. LUSU permitted the movie event to proceed as long as all of the group's promotional material did not reference CMI.
In the 2018–19 financial year,* Lakehead University received $87,812,000 in taxpayer dollars in the form of government grants. These taxpayer funds accounted for 41.8% of their annual revenue.
*Lakehead University did not make their 2019–20 financial statements available by the time of publication of the 2020 Campus Freedom Index.